Mån 25 sep / År 41 / Nr 3 2023

The best fuel is never used – Stena makes large investments in energy efficiency projects

Stena has always focused on developing and testing solutions to make its ships more efficient. Striving to obtain better resource management is in itself nothing new, but it now has a more strategic function. The sustainability goals have been concretised in accordance with tightened existing and future requirements from the IMO and above all the EU, which means that Stena is in the middle of a major change process.

Ron Gerlach, Technical Director at Stena Rederi AB

“Saving energy has never been more relevant than now”, says Ron Gerlach, Technical Director at Stena Rederi AB.

There are a number of different solutions to save energy and reduce fuel consumption for existing ships. For newbuilds, there are even more technical solutions to choose from, all of which provide some form of savings. The big challenge for Stena lies in evaluating which solutions are best for their particular needs, and not least for the customers’ needs.

“It is of course a challenge to evaluate all new technology that is presented. It is practically something new every week. We are investigating various alternatives regarding new and more sustainable fuels, among other things. The best fuel, however, is the fuel we never need to use, that is, the fuel we can save by making the ships a little more efficient”, explains Ron Gerlach.

Which is the best option?

Stena constantly researches, tests and evaluates new technical solutions. It covers everything from installing specially designed sails to constructing lighter ships, optimised hull forms or protective coatings.

“If we take Stena Electra as an example, our fully electrified ship that will be launched around 2030, it will be a demo example both for electrification and for lighter designs thanks to new materials and manufacturing processes. But our work for a sustainable future in shipping is about so much more. We also investigate the fuels of the future and where they come from, how they are being produced and by whom. Which is the best option from all sustainability perspectives? We conduct a dialogue with producers at all levels to form an opinion about this”, explains Ron Gerlach further.

At the time of writing, the last two of a total of six new methanol-powered vessels are being built within the collaboration between Stena Bulk and Proman. The collaboration between Stena Bulk and the methanol manufacturer Proman is a good example of how they strive together to achieve increased sustainability from all perspectives. Ron Gerlach clarifies:

“In order for fuel producers to be interested in building new facilities at all, there must be a demand. From our side, we can guarantee the demand, but we have to evaluate what it is we should invest in and what we should be putting a demand on first”.

“If we look at bio-based diesel fuels for example, could we not just use that to power our existing ships? It could be done technically, but we are also involved in the discussion of where the fuel comes from and how it has been produced. Aside from the technical and scientific approach this is also a very ethically oriented issue that we are putting a lot of effort into evaluating now”.

“In answering the question of which option is the best, we conclude that the best way forward is to apply many different solutions to each individual ship. Every solution has its place, and our job now is to decide where that place is within our fleet”, Ron Gerlach concludes.