The first Wartsila HY contract signed

The first Wärtsilä HY contract signed

By 2018, the first vessels equipped with the Wärtsilä HY hybrid power module will start operating in the Port of Genoa. Italian tug operator Rimorchiatori Riuniti was first in line to acquire the innovative, green propulsion technology.

Text: Marianne Alfsen Photo: Fredrik Naumann/Felix Features, Nadia Frantsen

Anyone who has visited Genoa has seen them – the fleet of potent, bright orange tugboats helping vessels moor in Italy’s largest commercial port, assisting them in case of fire or escorting them safely out into the open sea.

For 30 years, since 1987, Rimorchiatori Riuniti has been the sole tug operator servicing the huge Port of Genoa – drawing on almost 100 years of experience and always eager to fine-tune its operations to respond to changing customer needs. Today, the Port of Genoa tug fleet counts 13 vessels.

Now, Rimorchiatori Riuniti has yet again shown its ability to take the lead, by being the first to sign the acquisition contract for the Wärtsilä HY – the world’s first integrated hybrid power module. 

A responsibility

Fittingly, the contract was signed on 30 May, at the 2017 Nor-Shipping trade fair in Norway. The focus of the entire event was ‘Disruptive Sustainability’ – how the shipping industry must ‘disrupt’ or ‘be disrupted’, i.e. be proactive, not just sit around and wait for the inevitable, say, stricter environmental demands. By signing the Wärtsilä HY contract, Rimorchiatori Riuniti has displayed its ability to disrupt.

“As the biggest tug operator in Italy, and in the Mediterranean, we have an obligation to explore new opportunities and invest in new technology to make our business greener,” explains a smiling Giacomo Gavarone, head of the Chartering Department at Rimorchiatori Riuniti, after signing the historic contract.

“We are very happy to bring the Wärtsilä HY hybrid power module to the Italian market, and hope others will follow our lead,” adds Raffaello Corradi, Group Technical Director at Rimorchiatori Riuniti.

The first Wartsila HY contract signed2
From left to right: Marco Ryan (Wärtsilä, Chief Digital Officer & EVP, Digital Organisation) Giacomo Gavarone (Head of the Chartering Department at Rimorchiatori Riuniti) and Giulio Tirelli (Wärtsilä, Director, Marine Engineering).

Pioneering technology

Wärtsilä was the first company to put batteries on ships 10 years ago. Now, the company has committed another first.

“We want ships powered by Wärtsilä to have the lowest impact on the environment. With the new Wärtsilä HY we have brought together different technologies, and designed them to work together to give lower emissions than systems designed in isolation,” says Tony Chronnell, Manager for Power and Propulsion Sales at Wärtsilä Electrical & Automation.

Wärtsilä HY is the combination of Wärtsilä’s industry-leading expertise in both engines technology and electrical and automation systems, including hybrid applications.

Usually the electrical components – including the energy storage and the energy management systems – and the engine are delivered by different suppliers and tuned to work together once on board the ship. Wärtsilä HY comes as single product, which is designed, engineered, installed, tested, maintained and guaranteed by Wärtsilä.

“The benefit is that we can optimise the whole package, reach higher performances and guarantee the performance at a system level,” says Matteo Natali, Technical Sales Manager, Wärtsilä Engines, and coordinator of the project.

The first Wartsila HY contract signed3
Matteo Natali, Technical Sales Manager, Wärtsilä Engines, and coordinator of the project.


The idea is that the Wärtsilä HY is to be customised for each vessel type, in close cooperation with customers. Rimorchiatori Riuniti has thus been involved from an early stage in the development of the tug module. 

“There is no other way to work than cooperate. If the system does not operate in the way we need, it is of no use to us. Thus we need to work together to create customised systems,” says Corradi.

“We were lucky to be asked to join Wärtsilä in the development of the Wärtsilä HY. We have provided the operational insights needed to create a hybrid power module tailor made to tugs. We hope to continue our cooperation with Wärtsilä,” adds Gavarone.

The Wärtsilä HY has already achieved preliminary classification with Lloyd’s Register.

“This is the first approval in principle of an integrated hybrid power module. This is a clear signal that market and approval bodies believe in the innovation path we are pursuing,” says Stefano Furlan, who is in charge of classification compliance in Wärtsilä in Italy. 

The future is hybrid

The Wärtsilä HY hybrid power module represents a giant stride towards achieving a greener international commercial fleet, cutting costs and improving service. Within ten years, hybrid propulsion is expected to be the technology of choice to a substantial part of the shipping industry.

“We need to make port authorities and the larger shipping community understand the importance of this development. Because, Wärtsilä HY is not just an investment for us, it can contribute to bringing the Port of Genoa into the green zone. We hope our investment will be the first step that make others follow,” says Gavarone, adding:

“I am only 36 years old and I have 30 years ahead of me in this business. This is the future, my future.”

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