Hiroshima-based boatbuilder Tsuneishi Facilities & Craft (TFC) has secured a contract to build a hybrid hydrogen-diesel passenger ferry, designed by Belgian shipowner Compagnie Maritime Belge (CMB). The forthcoming newbuild has been described by CMB as “a milestone in the journey towards zero-carbon emissions shipping”, and it could prove an interesting eco-friendly alternative to Japan’s many battery/solar power-reliant ‘clean vessel’ concepts.
CMB has been proactive in investigating green vessel power solutions, perhaps most notably demonstrated in its design of the partly hydrogen-fuelled, 16-passenger catamaran Hydroville. Now, the company is entrusting TFC with the production of an 80-pax vessel. “The detailed design is still a ‘work in progress’ but the ship will be 19gt or under, which will categorise her as a ‘small ship’ in Japanese law,” Roberto Aonuma, representative director for CMB Japan, tells Ship & Boat International. Following delivery in 2021, the ferry will be owned by a joint venture established between CMB and a Japanese partner, the latter of whom will operate the vessel. The ferry’s intended service route is yet to be announced, but Aonuma confirms that she will provide an inland sea/coastal commuter service for local residents . “CMB will supply the hybrid engine set, while the joint venture will procure a hydrogen storage tank locally,” he adds.
Given the ferry’s small size, she will effectively be ‘classed’ as part of the government-regulated Japan Compulsory Insurance (JCI) scheme, which is commonly used for cars, motorbikes and small coastal craft. JCI representatives will scrutinise all aspects of the ferry’s design, from its hullform to the integrities of the hydrogen storage system and dual-fuel engine(s). Perhaps unsurprisingly, onboard storage has presented the biggest challenge during the project – for instance, a more compact hydrogen tank will save much-valued onboard space, creating more room for paying passengers, but will also lead to weight gain. However, while details have not yet been disclosed, CMB believes that it has come up with a workable fix, which is now going through the regulatory approval process.
The effortshould be worth it, though: Aonuma predicts that the ferry will achieve a daily CO2 reduction of approximately 0.84tonnes compared to conventionally fuelled vessels of this size and type.