Finnlines’ three new RoRo vessels are taking advantage of Wärtsilä’s advanced hybrid propulsion technology to improve reliability while lowering costs and emissions.
Soon hybrid ships will be as common on our seas as hybrid cars are on our roads. Three new RoRo vessels with hybrid propulsion systems have now been delivered to Finnlines for use on their Baltic, North Sea and Biscay routes. The vessels will play a critical role in the expansion of more sustainable services by Finnlines’ and their parent company Grimaldi.
Shipping companies constantly need to improve their offering in response to customer demands and ever-tightening regulations around emissions, including the need to reduce or even eliminate emissions while in harbour. With this in mind, Finnlines chose Wärtsilä to design and supply the hybrid propulsion drive system for their three new state-of-the-art RoRo vessels.
The Finneco I, II and III are all 238 metres long with a cargo capacity of 5,800 lane metres. They include a 5,000 kWh lithium-ion energy storage system which can be charged by the main engine driven shaft generators. The vessels are equipped with low-emission 2-stroke engines, emission abatement systems, solar panels and an innovative air lubrication system that cuts fuel consumption by reducing the vessel’s frictional resistance.
“The Grimaldi Group has an ambitious long-term plan to build more environmentally friendly vessels,” explains Michael Kranz, General Manager of Shaft Generator Systems at Wärtsilä Marine Power. “Finnlines wanted a holistic systems supplier with a single point of contact for the hybrid system, and we’re very happy they chose us to help them meet their goals.”
“Finnlines wants to lead the decarbonisation of shipping, and we are convinced that the fuel savings and future flexibility we get from a hybrid propulsion system is the right step to take,” says Juha Ahia, Project Manager, Newbuildings at Finnlines. “We have been very happy with the cooperation and quality work from the Wärtsilä team.”
A hybrid propulsion system isn’t simply a conventional one with an added battery; it also includes an entire control system which optimises fuel consumption, manages the thrusters and controls the safe charging and discharging of the battery.
Finnlines wanted a holistic systems supplier with a single point of contact for the hybrid shaft generator system, and we’re very happy they chose us to help meet their goals.
Wärtsilä’s hybrid solution included the shaft generator system and power take-off/power-take-in converters and transformers and thrusters with fixed pitch propellers (FPP) as well as the energy management system (EMS), power management system (PMS) and automation system (AMS). The integration work was accomplished by Wärtsilä’s local team at the CMJL Jiangsu shipyard in China.
The Wärtsilä FPP thrusters integrated into the hybrid system are more robust than controllable pitch propeller (CPP) thrusters. “This was an important advantage for Finnlines because the vessels sometimes operate in icy conditions,” says Lauri Tiainen, Director, Thrusters and Propulsion Control Systems, Wärtsilä. “FPP thrusters are also more efficient because they only run when needed, reducing energy consumption by as much as 20% compared to CPP thrusters,” Tiainen continues.
As part of the fully integrated hybrid system, the thrusters can run almost entirely on battery power instead of the crew having to start up auxiliary engines to provide power. Lastly, because FPP thrusters are less complex with fewer moving parts, they require less maintenance, resulting in lower lifecycle costs.
Shaft generator systems are driven by the main engine to supply power at a constant voltage and frequency, even if the main engine or propeller speed changes. The EMS acts as the brains for the whole system, the PMS controls power generation and distribution, while the AMS monitors and automates different functions.
“This was the first 2-stroke hybrid shaft generator system for both us and Finnlines,” says Kranz. “One of the challenges we had was integrating the latest energy management functionalities and the automation system into the 2-stroke system.”
The integration allowed Finnlines to have a single supplier relationship with Wärtsilä, simplifying the process and lowering the risks. This was particularly important given the complexity of the project and the demanding schedule. Of course, as with every project of this nature, this one had its fair share of unexpected challenges.
“COVID-19 hit right before the installation phase was due to begin,” says Kranz. “This made it a special challenge to build up skilled resources. The commissioning and sea trials had to be performed entirely remotely with the help of our local Wärtsilä Engineering and Field Service teams from Shanghai. Everyone really pulled together to make it happen.”
COVID-19 hit right before the installation phase was due to begin. The whole commissioning and sea trials had to be performed entirely remotely with the help of our local Wärtsilä Engineering and Field Service teams from Shanghai. Everyone really pulled together to make it happen.
Finnlines’ new vessels boast serious improvements over the older generation of traditional propulsion systems in terms of reliability, safety and efficiency. The hybrid setup cuts fuel consumption, maintenance costs and emissions, making a positive impact on both the environment and Finnlines’ bottom line.
The Wärtsilä solution delivers all auxiliary power as well as power to the bow thrusters. This reduces auxiliary engine use, so the vessels can operate with no emissions while in port and meet the requirements of the stringent Registro Italiano Navale Green Plus classification.
“The vessels can achieve zero running hours on the auxiliary generators while sailing. They also have peak shaving capability to boost efficiency and blackout prevention,” says Kranz. “We are proud that Wärtsilä played a part in making Finnlines’ new acquisitions some of the most environmentally friendly RoRo vessels in the world.”
Improve reliability while lowering costs and emissions for three newbuild RoRo vessels.
Wärtsilä hybrid propulsion system with shaft generator plus complete control system to optimise fuel consumption, manage thrusters and control battery charging and discharging.
Reduced fuel consumption, emissions and maintenance costs; zero-emission operations in port and zero auxiliary running hours while sailing.