UK operator criticised for buying hybrid ferries amid lack of charging facilities

P&O Pioneer (Photo: MarineTraffic.com)
P&O Pioneer (Photo: MarineTraffic.com)

UK operator P&O Ferries has come under criticism for its purchase of two new hybrid electric Ro-Pax vessels despite a lack of suitable shore charging infrastructure at the two ports that they will primarily serve.

Local newspaper The Telegraph said the two newbuild ferries will be forced to operate solely on diesel fuel shortly after their delivery later this year, as the electricity grids in Dover and in the French port of Calais are not yet capable of supplying adequate power for charging the vessels' batteries.

Sources told The Telegraph about an apparent lack of communication between P&O Ferries and officials at the two ports. However, P&O Ferries disputed the reports, reiterating that extensive consultations were made with port officials concerning the new vessels' electrical power requirements.

The two ferries, which will be named P&O Pioneer and P&O Liberte, are in their final stages of construction in China. P&O Ferries reportedly invested approximately £260 million (US$313 million) for the vessels.

Although the ferries were built to also be capable of battery-only sailings, a spokesperson for P&O Ferries said the vessels were never intended to operate entirely on zero-emission mode due to existing shore power capacity limitations.

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