First LNG engine on a passenger ferry tackles climate change in Spain


First LNG engine on a passenger ferry tackles climate change in Spain

With the installation of a natural gas-powered auxiliary engine onboard Baleària’s Abel Matutes ferry, participants in the European Union-funded CleanPort project claim to have reduced CO2 emissions by 1,300 tons. According to the data compiled by lead project partners Baleària and Naturgy, between June 2017 and October 2018, the use of the auxiliary engine onboard the ferry also resulted in the reduction of about 20 tons of NOx, two tons of SOx and half a ton of particulate matter.

“Baleària’s commitment to an eco-efficient fleet is based on smart ships powered by natural gas,” said Baleària’s President Adolfo Utor. “In addition to this pilot project, which we value very positively, the shipping company already has two vessels sailing on LNG, two new constructions and the re-deployment of five more vessels.”

Vicente Gramuntell, Iberia Operations Director of Naturgy, added: ‘The results obtained in this study and related to safety, efficiency, reduction of emissions and noise, as well as fuel consumption, among others, have been better than expected. Our collaboration with Baleària is another example of the importance of defining and designing feasible and innovative technological solutions for the generation of clean auxiliary energy.’

For its part, the president of the Port of Barcelona, Mercé Conesa, pointed out that the Catalan port was the first port in the Mediterranean to supply LNG to a ferry on a regular and continuous basis. “Air quality is a priority for the Port of Barcelona and the promotion of liquefied natural gas as an alternative fuel for ships and trucks is precisely a strategic axis of our Air Quality Improvement Plan,’ said Conesa. ‘CleanPort demonstrates not only that LNG as a fuel for ships is viable from the economic point of view, but also translates into a very significant reduction of polluting emissions,” she commented.

Other data collected in the analysis of the period addressed aspects of the installation and use of the new natural gas engine in relation to safety in operation, the reliability of the installation, efficiency, economic indicators as well as emissions and noise.

Led by Baleària and Naturgy, the initiative is part of the CleanPort project which aims to demonstrate the feasibility of an alternative and clean energy generation system in the maritime field, in line with the European Directive on the implementation of an infrastructure for alternative fuels, and Directive 2012/33/EU on the sulfur content of fuels for marine use.

Co-financed by the European Union through the CEF-Transport program, the ports of Barcelona and the Balearic Islands and the General Directorate of the Merchant Navy are also participating in the project.

Higher-than-expected results

Among the different indicators analyzed in the study, system reliability, efficiency, improved emissions, noise reduction, fuel consumption, maintenance costs and LNG refueling times, among others, were better than expected.

During the period (from June 2017 to October 2018), the reduction in CO2 emissions was close to 1,300 tons, while those of NOx were almost 20 tons. The reduction of SOx emissions was close to two tons and the reduction of particle emission was practically total.

Apart from emissions reduction, the project participants remarked that in terms of the cost of maintenance of the gas installation there were no additional costs compared to those of a diesel system. On the other hand, significant fuel savings were recorded as well as significant reductions in the ship’s port charges when applying the environmental bonuses foreseen for operating with the auxiliary natural gas engine in the port.

Baleària and Naturgy are among the main supporters of sustainable mobility and are also pioneers in the promotion of natural gas as transport fuel in the Iberian Peninsula, a region that has experienced great growth in the adoption of clean energies. In this extremely encouraging scenario, AltFuels Iberia 2019 will take place on 11-14 June at IFEMA Trade Center, Madrid. It will be an event consisting of first level conferences and exhibition of vehicles of all kinds, refueling stations, components, plants, road and marine engines, as well as the entire universe of the alternative fuels industry with the latest technological developments, multiple options for networking, business and new advances. For more information, please contact

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