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Passenger Ship Technology

Passenger Ship Technology

Batteries, LNG, China and consolidation: a landmark year

Mon 24 Dec 2018 by Rebecca Moore

Batteries, LNG, China and consolidation: a landmark year

2018 is the year that alternative energy use within the passenger ship sector became mainstream.

Norway’s environmental legislation is spearheading the drive towards electric hybrid and battery-power in the ferry sector. Earlier this year the Norwegian Parliament adopted a resolution to halt emissions from cruise ships and ferries in the Norwegian world heritage fjords as soon as technically possible, and no later than 2026. This is resulting in a move towards battery and hybrid diesel-electric power as a standard means of propulsion.

But as global environmental maritime regulations become stricter, 2018 signifies a prominent move towards battery use in ferries operating outside of Norway. Examples include Wightlink’s hybrid battery-powered Victoria of Wight and two battery hybrid ferries built by Remontowa for Transport for London, both delivered this year.

Over in the cruise sector, 2018 is a landmark year for LNG use by the cruise industry, with 18 LNG cruise ships on the global orderbook, out of 95. The LNG cruise orderbook has forced LNG bunkering infrastructure – the main hurdle to its development as a maritime fuel for cruise ships – to quickly develop.

The dictate of zero emissions by 2050 has had an impact on the passenger ship sector. Among many interesting initiatives in this regard is the launch of a carbon-free cruise design that uses wind as a main source of power – a design that is first-of-its-kind and which has great potential – it is already being trialled so is more than just a concept. 

Using Chinese yards to build cruise ships and ferries is a trend that started a few years ago, but gained traction in 2018. A milestone is the contract Carnival Corp signed this year to build two cruise ships in China for its new Chinese Cruise Line. This marks the first time cruise ships are being built in China aimed at the Chinese market.

Aside from alternative power, 2018 has seen two new players strengthen their positions in the industry: Virgin Voyages and Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection. They are an interesting contrast to the large, traditional players and their way of doing things differently will I believe, start new trends.


Batteries become mainstream for ferries

2018 was the year hybrid electric and full battery power came into their own throughout the ferry sector.

Its increased use is highlighted by The Fjords’ all-electric Future of the Fjords, which won Ship of the Year at SMM 2018.

This ship stands out as it highlights a move from dual-fuel battery power to being a fully electric and zero-emissions vessel. This can be seen in The Fjords’ own fleet, as first-in-class Vision of the Fjords was dual fuel – and following Future of the Fjords, the Norwegian ferry operator announced in Q4 2018 that it was building another fully electric ferry – Legacy of the Fjords.

The environmental and energy efficiency benefits reaped from this type of propulsion suggests this is a trend that will only strengthen.


LNG: open the cruise ship floodgates

The use of LNG has been rumbling away within the cruise sector for the last few years, but it was in 2018 that LNG made a big impact on the sector. A quarter of newbuild cruise ship capacity on the global orderbook will be fuelled by LNG from 2018.

Carnival Corp is taking the lead with the use of LNG as fuel – it will launch seven fully LNG-powered ships by 2022 – a move that will cause ripple effects throughout the industry.

Carnival’s commitment to LNG will boost the bunkering infrastructure, the main challenge to the cruise industry adopting gas as a fuel. Carnival Corp has signed a framework agreement with Shell Western LNG to supply fuel to power the LNG-fuelled ships for AIDA Cruises and Costa Cruises. This drive to boost the bunkering infrastructure is encouraging other cruise operators to consider LNG.


Enter carbon-free cruising

Chantiers de l’Atlantique (formerly STX France) has launched a first-of-its-kind carbon-free cruise design that uses wind as a main source of power. STX France decided to use sails to harness wind power and the yard created the technology to be used with the sails.

And this design is already becoming a reality as Ponant and Chantiers de l’Atlantique are testing the Solid Sail system on Le Ponant. This technology will be attractive other operators as it will significantly reduce energy consumption tied to propulsion, and thus considerably reduce the environmental impact. 

Furthermore, there are options to combine wind as the main source of power with other alternative fuels, such as LNG and even fuel cells.


Carnival milestone: built in China, for China

Using Chinese yards to build cruise ships and ferries gained momentum in 2017 – but has ramped up in 2018 due to myriad agreements between Chinese yards and European and US companies to build and develop cruise ships in China. Of note is the contract in November this year for two cruise ships to be built for Carnival Corp’s new Chinese cruise line, marking a milestone as they will be the first units of this kind ever made in China for the Chinese market.

The combination of a huge cruise consumer market in China with building cruise ships in China will help build the supply network and provide Chinese shipyards with the experience they need to build cruise ships.


Virgin Voyages and Ritz-Carlton: applying new cruise concepts  

Virgin Voyages and Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection are new players within the cruise market and have the potential to shake things up. They are doing things differently – Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection is the first to leverage a hotel brand within the industry and is basing its strategy and concept upon that of a private yacht.

Virgin Voyages is an extension of a famous brand and is doing things differently. An example is that it has chosen multiple interior designers to design its ships, who have not designed cruise ship interiors before.

The industry will be watching closely and the actions of the two brands I believe will spur other cruise operators to use new ideas.

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