Mån 4 mar / År 42 / Nr 5 2023

The way to fossil-free shipping has many paths

Stena Rederi AB has a long history of being a pioneer when it comes to greener and more sustainable shipping. This is primarily thanks to the family company ownership goals; where long-term investments to promote more sustainable business over time are always favoured.

The way forward to reach the goal of fossil-free shipping has many paths. Undoubtedly, many different solutions will contribute to making it possible. Electrification is one of them, alternative bio-fuels another.

“Why are we always first to try out new and innovative technology? We have the benefit of having an owner with a strong belief and focus on doing the right thing, on doing good and building a better future. At Stena, we have an obligation to develop more sustainable methods for shipping, so that we comply with both IMO- and EU-regulations and meet our customers’ expectations as well”, says Ron Gerlach, Technical Director at Stena Rederi AB and responsible for Stena’s internal Research and Development unit at Stena Teknik.

Showcasing front edge technology

The way forward to reach the goal of fossil-free shipping has many paths. Undoubtedly, many different solutions will contribute to making it possible. Electrification is one of them, alternative bio-fuels another.

“Ideally, and what is most commonly associated with Stena as a group, is to push forward and see how far we can go in terms of new technology and see how much we are able to change while still remaining commercially viable. The development of Stena Electra is a great example of this”, says Ron Gerlach.

The completely electrified Stena Electra will be a concept ship, a showcase for how Stena aims to move forward when it comes to an electrified fleet. She is not representing the entire solution for a fossil-free future in shipping, but is more appropriately regarded as a demonstration of how new technology can solve old problems.

It is also important to acknowledge what we are doing today, right now, with the technology that is available to us, which is also something that will absolutely change the future of shipping”, Per Westling adds.

Energy- and fuel-saving possibilities of today

Stena has more than hundred ships in operation. Making the existing fleets more efficient and sustainable is the key question of today, of 2023 and in the years to come.

“We are currently developing a tool for measuring fuel consumption over time, which in time will be implemented as a guide to save more energy and fuel throughout all of Stena’s fleets. Stena Line will be first when it comes to the implementation of this new technology, as most of our ships are operating on the Stena Line trades”, explains Ron Gerlach.

The system has been developed by a Gothenburg-based company, and Stena’s researchers are currently testing it to verify the technology.

“Very soon, we will be able to collect data from the first vessels. Measuring fuel consumption is important not only to see what has been, but more importantly to see where we are going. We have an obligation to predict the effects of new environmental legislation, and to comply with it. This is why it is so important for us to implement the new tool as soon as possible, so that we can start taking advantage of knowing exactly how much energy and fuel is consumed by any individual ship, at any given time”, Ron Gerlach underlines.

The new tool is also a big part of Stena’s ongoing digitalisation project concerning all operations and all fleets.

Another important aspect to take into consideration is the fact that there is a great possibility in making improvement during the actual operation of the vessel. When it comes energy- and fuel-saving, significant amounts of fuel can be saved without any technological investment at all. How is this possible?

“Through creating awareness of how various ways of operating a ship, such as route planning,  adjusting speed and trim, managing heat-losses in the ships systems etc can reduce fuel consumption, we are in fact able to make great savings. Just by understanding how energy efficiency on board works, the crew can contribute to our overall sustainability goals in their everyday work. This is something that we want to highlight more as well”, concludes Per Westling.