Unusually for a Norwegian coastal Ro-Pax ferry, Hjellestad is of all-aluminium construction. That, however, is not all that is new and different about this impressive and very innovative vessel.
Designed by leading and fast growing Norwegian naval architecture firm LMG Marin, the ferry was well constructed by a local builder. It incorporates a versatile propulsion system comprising biodiesel/electric, hybrid and pure “plug in” electric options. All of these, operating through Schottel “L” Drive units, offer endless versatility and potential for emission reduction and economy.
Carrying 16 cars and 80 passengers, the 43-metre by 12-metre Hjellestad normally operates at 12 knots.
“We believe this ferry is unique for three reasons,” LMG Marin managing director Torbjorn Bringedal told Baird Maritime. “First, its operations are zero-emission as the vessel is powered by a battery that is charged with clean electric grid energy. Also, with optimised hull lines, the use of lightweight aluminium, the absence of hull appendices, and the use of heat recovery solutions, it also boasts cutting-edge energy efficiency.
“Lastly, the charging of the vessel’s battery using manual-type shore charging solutions is a work of simplicity and has proven to be reliable.”
Specifically, Bringedal highlighted the incorporation of manual shore charging equipment instead of the automated solutions typical of the new ferries that operate along Norway’s busier coastal routes.
Bringedal added that the work on Hjellestad was in line with LMG Marin’s focus on solutions involving green energy and emissions reductions in line with the market’s increasing propensity towards environment-friendly vessels. However, he admitted that a challenge exists in the sense that vessels still need to provide increased capacity, longer range, and higher speed without sacrificing sustainability in operations.
“Achievement-wise, we are at an all-time high,” Bringedal said when asked by Baird Maritime about how LMG Marin fared during 2020. “We were able to launch a record number of vessels of various types that operate mainly on green solutions such as biofuels, natural gas, electricity, and hydrogen. We were negatively impacted by Covid-19 just like everyone else in the shipbuilding industry, but fortunately, we are seeing signs of recovery with postponed projects being revived.”
Bringedal expects that LMG Marin’s continued momentum will serve it well as the passenger vessel industry – particularly in Norway – continues to evolve through the adoption of innovative technologies.
“The passenger ferry sector is likely to be the first to undergo the transition from fossil fuels to clean energy solutions. Reasons for the transition include public transport policies formulated by governments to regulate passenger ferries and the feasibility of adopting clean energy solutions for domestic and short sea-shipping routes.
“In Norway, we have a domestic market where the threshold for applying new technology is relatively low and where such projects are strongly supported by government initiatives. The Norwegian maritime industry including designers such as ourselves are generally known to be innovative, being the first to come up with new solutions to meet market demand. Market demand was strong before Covid-19 came into the picture. Fortunately, that same market is showing signs of recovery.”
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