KLU talks Business … with Søren Poulsgaard Jensen, Scandlines

Scandlines hybrid ferry passes lighthouse

The German-Danish ferry operator Scandlines doesn't just talk about green shipping. It is demonstrating how it can be done: six out of seven ferries are hybrid ferries, which combine traditional diesel propulsion with an electric battery drive. This enables for up to 15% less CO2 emissions. One of these ferries has also been equipped with an innovative rotor sail from the Finnish company Norsepower. CEO Søren Poulsgaard Jensen talks about why rotor technology didn't manage to break through 100 years ago, and how KLU and the maritime industry are working together on more climate-friendly shipping as part of the EU research project WASP (Wind Assisted Ship Propulsion).

Scandlines installed the first rotor sail on a ferry a year ago with the aim in mind of saving an average of 4-5% CO2. What have the company’s initial experiences has been with using this new technology?

Søren Poulsgaard Jensen: Our experience with the rotor sail on the hybrid ferry "Copenhagen" has been overwhelmingly positive. After more than three quarters of a year of testing in regular operation, we took the "Copenhagen" out of service for a few hours at the beginning of March 2021 and sent it on a test run aka a "speed test" in order to put the system to the acid test. This test more than met our expectations.

Rotor technology was first used as early as 1924 (MS Buckau). Why has it still not caught on?

Søren Poulsgaard Jensen: I don’t think we were ready for it yet in 1920s. Falling oil prices which led to steam engines being replaced by diesel drives completely revolutionized shipping at the time and prevented the major breakthrough of this "auxiliary drive". In the decades that followed, the technology was somewhat forgotten. However, today, we are in a different world. In order to continue the decarbonization of shipping, we are in dire need of innovative concepts to further reduce the energy demand of ships. In our view, rotor technology represents a promising element in this context.

What has been the motivation behind your cooperation with KLU on the Wind Assisted Ship Propulsion (WASP) research project? What precisely does this look like and in which specific areas has KLU been able to support you?

Søren Poulsgaard Jensen: Collaboration with research partners helps us gain perspective on a scientific level with our projects which are often very operationally driven projects. Working together with KLU and other partners in the WASP project will allow us to, for example, develop economic feasibility analyses for wind-assisted assistance systems. These will in turn assist shipping companies in choosing the correct technical solution for them.

If you look ahead to the year 2030 what do you think will have changed significantly in ferry shipping compared to as it stands today? How will your company differ from the competition in terms of sustainability?

Søren Poulsgaard Jensen: Shipping and therefore also ferry shipping will have taken a major step towards climate neutrality. Scandlines will distinguish itself by already offering a completely climate-neutral short route ferry service between Rødby and Puttgarden.

In three words, what in your mind does KLU stand for?

Søren Poulsgaard Jensen:  knowledgeable / leading / unequalled

Installation of the rotor sail on the Scandlines hybrid ferry "Copenhagen (copyright: Scandlines)

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