New ferry promises 20pc cut in fuel use, carbon emissions

Dutch company's seagoing hybrid vessel gives new hope to city's shipping operators

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 23 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 23 January, 2013, 3:23am

A Dutch company has presented Hong Kong with the world's first diesel electric seagoing ferry that promises to cut fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions by at least 20 per cent.

The news comes hot on the heels of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying's policy address announcement last week that ships will soon have to switch to low-sulphur fuel to cut emissions.

The media yesterday got a peek at the hybrid ferry that Rotterdam-based company Imtech Marine designed for Scottish state-owned ferry operator Caledonian Maritime Assets (CMAL). Glasgow's Ferguson Shipbuilders is building the ferry.

CMAL looked to buy greener vessels to replace its 30 existing ones after the Scottish government required the transport sector to reduce emissions by at least 20 per cent by 2020.

The ferries will go into service in May, providing transport to 18 Scottish islands, all of which are about half an hour away from each other by ship.

Imtech consultant Michiel Post said the same model could be used in Hong Kong as the travelling time for ferry services to local destinations was similar.

The ferry is propelled by diesel and battery. When it ends service each day, its battery is charged overnight from an on-shore electric source for about 12 hours.

While this is not the first hybrid ship to use diesel and battery, it is the first vessel suitable for the sea as its elevation allows it to withstand waves.

The battery for each CMAL ferry costs €700,000 (HK$7.2 million), but Post said the environmental benefits were worth the investment. "It is pretty expensive, but I think in one or two years, the price [of the batteries] will go down by half. It is [already] going down very quickly."