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Finnlines at the head of the pack in race towards sustainability


Finnlines at the head of the pack in race towards sustainability

If you don’t measure your own performance, how can you improve? Sportsmen, businessmen, and all mankind in all activities have to improve day after day, and must be able to measure its results to go further.

The latest waves of environmental regulation, led by the European Union and the International Maritime Organization (IMO), will help standardise such benchmarking as part of the fight against climate change via a data collection scheme, which will for the first time track key indicators of ship performance in order to calculate emissions.

For Finnlines, this is nothing new. When it comes to fighting climate change, we are a step ahead of our competitors. Our longstanding focus on fuel consumption fits hand in glove with IMO’s goals, namely a 50% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2050 when compared to the 2008 baseline.

We are in fact proud to say that, as the data collection scheme is rolled out, we are already more than halfway toward meeting these ambitious goals. By reducing fuel consumption, we have since 2008 already cut our fleet’s car-bon dioxide emissions by 30%, according to figures certified by classification society RINA.

Size matters and this success story has only been possible because since 2007 Finnlines is part of the well-capitalised Grimaldi Group, one of the world’s largest ro-ro operators.

The merger with the Grimaldi Group allowed Finnlines to both survive the 2009 crisis and emerge in better shape, consuming less fuel while moving more freight and passengers. The new supportive shareholders heavily invested in the company: in new technologically advanced tonnage, in R&D that supports emission-reduction equipment as well as in highly skilled personnel.

"We will continue to

improve – we are on

the right path."

The Group’s financial solidity allowed for three waves of ro-ro and ro-pax newbuilds as well as for a EUR 200 million green retrofit programme. Thanks to these actions, economies of scale and environmental footprint of the fleet have been dramatically improving, as well as the average age of the Finnlines fleet is of course dropping as new assets are being delivered. Also ship data monitoring investments and smarter data collection have led to substantial improvements in hydrodynamic performance, allowing for instance to set appropriate trim for differing weather conditions.

With regulators stimulating the debate on low-carbon fuels, we pledge not to lose our focus on sustainability: we will continue to improve and are on the right path. We recently ordered three newbuildings, built to produce zero emission in ports and aimed at pushing beyond the green scores of ro-ro in the Baltic. We are also about to order further two ro-pax, the “Superstar”, which will be best and most environmentally friendly units in their category.

We are now looking beyond the IMO requirements. Thanks to an about EUR 37 million investment, most part of our port business in Finland is run with electrical machineries (cranes, straddle carriers, forklifts), and we are studying to further improve our shore-based activities by experimenting with hydrogen-powered machinery in terminals. We also continue to invest in information technology to allow, for example, more efficient bookings and tracking of cargo units.

For the transport sector and Europe’s economy in general, it is at the same time important to keep putting emphasis on shipping’s green credentials. Classification society D’Apollonia has recently calculated that over a typical Finnlines route such as the one between Travemünde and Helsinki, and after including external costs such as pollution and congestion, the cost of transporting a trailer is EUR 3,275 by road, EUR 2,622 by train and EUR 1,719 by ferry.

While shipping is already the most environmentally friendly mode of transport, the drive to-wards sustainability will ensure it keeps its green title.

Emanuele Grimaldi