The European Union has classified the project submitted by Baleària for the call for CEF (Connecting Europe Facility) funds as “excellent”. Its aim is to switch to liquid natural gas (LNG)-powered engines in five of its ferries. The European Commission has granted the shipping company a subsidy of a maximum of €11,797,424 (of the 15 million requested) which accounts for 20% of the investment Baleària will make for these five retrofits, which will be undertaken starting at the end of this year and through 2021.
The Chairman of Baleària, Adolfo Utor, reflected his satisfaction with this award, which supports the shipping company’s main challenge: to implement the use of liquified natural gas in its fleet over the next few years as it’s the most environmentally-friendly fossil fuel. “Our medium-term goal is to become the shipping company with the most sustainable and eco-efficient fleet in the sector,” said Utor, who recalled that the first of the two smartships propelled by LNG being built by the Italian shipbuilder Visentini will begin sailing in the coming months in addition to these five ships to be fitted with new engines.
The European Union believes the project is highly relevant with a score of 5 out of 5, highlighting that “it makes it possible to meet the objectives set forth in Regulation 1315/2013 on efficiency, sustainability and cohesion, and will help decarbonize maritime transport”.
The evaluating commission also considered that the project is ready for implementation as “it is technically very developed and the funding is guaranteed”. Besides emphasizing the support of three banks ready to grant the necessary loan, it indicates that “the cost-benefit analysis is based on a solid methodology and is exhaustive”. Finally, it mentions that it already has practically all the necessary national, regional and local approvals.
It is worth remembering that as of 2020, shipping companies operating within the European Union and the exclusive economic area will have to use low-sulphur fuels. The use of LNG in the five ships to be fitted with new engines (Nápoles, Abel Matutes, Sicilia, Bahama Mama and Martín i Soler) is expected to reduce more than 45,000 tons of CO2 annually as well as 4,400 tons of nitrogen oxide (NOx) in addition to fully eliminating sulphur and particle emissions. The first of the ships to be fitted with a new engine will be the Nápoles as of mid-November.