Estonia opts for hydrogen-fuelled ferry

2023-12-28T19:01:18+00:00 December 28th, 2023|Ships|

Estonia State Ferry has issued a tender for the construction and design of a €40 mill, 700-pax, 1,000 lane metre, hydrogen-powered ferry.

The deadline for the submission of tenders is 17th January, 2024.

According to the company, the new ferry is due to start operating on the Virtsu/Kuivastu route on 1st October, 2026.

Her shipbuilding costs will be financed by the European Modernisation Fund and the revenues from the CO2 quota fee.

Estonian Climate Minister, Kristen Michal, said the ship’s procurement is a good example of how to contribute to the development of the economy while preserving nature and keeping the Baltic Sea clean.

“Further development of ferry technology is necessary to increase the quality of connections for the people and guests of the islands. By using energy efficiently, as a country, as customers, we get more rides for every euro and more in a way that preserves nature,” he said.

Andres Laasma, the State Fleet’s Director General, explained that great attention was paid to energy efficiency when designing the new ferry. “What makes the ferry special is the way it uses green energy, as well as the preservation of energy and the technology of releasing it into electricity,” he said.

On the zero emissions principle, the ship will be able to operate either from the shore via rechargeable electricity, or by utilising hydrogen fuel. She will also be able to operate in Estonian ice conditions with less energy consumption.

“Thanks to the updated technologies and the innovative housing design, the energy consumption of the new ferry is almost 20% less compared to the previous generation of ferries,” Laasma added.

According to Valentin Bratkov, the design’s project manager, in the long run, the energy efficiency of the ferry will also be maximised with the support of the ferry management technologies planned on board, to establish the optimal speed and ferry schedule.

In collaboration with the TalTech Maritime Academy, studies were made to create a prototype of a digital twin at the ferry concept’s development phase. “The digital twin helps the sailing ferry analyse current digital data streams and juxtaposes them with historical data, improving the optimality of use,” Bratkov explained.

“High-quality data analysis is used by ferry control systems, as well as by a shore-based operations and a simulation centre, which serves as the basis for planning the autonomous movement of a ship, as well as for the advanced training of operators and Masters,” he added.

The new ferry will have an automatic operations capability and decision support, which means that she will be able to sail between the ports in full autonomous mode.

“This does not mean that the ferry will sail without a crew, but different sections of work, such as navigation, including docking and mooring, shore-based charging, work in the engine room, car deck or customer service can be fully self-operating,” Bratkov further explained.

The new ferry has also been designed to be remotely operated in the future. “In connection with the increased autonomy, the class notations of cybersecurity and autonomy were an important focus in the planning of the ferry,” Bratkov added.

The creation of the new ferry concept project started in 2021. During the two-year planning, research and design process, local and external experts were consulted on the needs, expectations and opportunities.

Based on consumer expectations, the basis and goal of the new ferry concept was to build a ferry with a larger capacity than today’s vessels.

Just over 1,000 lane meters are planned for cars on board, which is about 20% more than the previous generation of ferries. As a result, the car deck will be able to accommodate almost 200 passenger cars or, for example, 16 large trucks with 50 passenger cars.

To increase the comfort of passengers, an on board restaurant with an onsite galley is planned, as is a shop, an extended recreation area and cabins for the crew.

In co-operation with Deltamarin, a study on the design and feasibility of a conceptual ferry was developed in the preparatory phase in order to check which characteristics and capabilities the ferry will be best suited for the Estonian routes in the long term.

The new ferry’s strength was also validated by class society, Lloyd’s Register before entering the construction procurement. LR gave the project an Approval in Principle at the end of November.