UK’s first LNG-powered ferry launches route between Portsmouth and Bilbao

The UK’s first liquefied natural gas (LNG)-powered ferry arrived in the Spanish port city of Bilbao this week from Portsmouth in the United Kingdom. Here's what you need to know about the new green energy ferry route.

Brittany Ferries Salamanca LNG-powered vessel. Photo: Brittany Ferries

The Salamanca is the first LNG-powered vessel to join the Brittany Ferries’ fleet and left on its inaugural voyage to Spain on Sunday March 27th with more than 600 passengers and freight vehicles.

She is set to make two round trips to Bilbao each week – one way will take around 28 hours – and will also make a weekly return voyage to Cherbourg in France.

“LNG-powered ships like Salamanca are a clear statement of our commitment to the future and to fleet renewal,” said Christophe Mathieu, Brittany Ferries CEO.

“They are cleaner vessels, significantly cutting air quality emissions like soot and sulphur. That’s good news for port partners today, but they could be even greener in the years to come. Salamanca is capable of running on future fuels like e-methane or bio-methane if these become available in volume. Either has the potential to cut carbon footprint significantly, in addition to the cleaner air that LNG-power brings from day one,” he added.

The company promises a smoother, quieter ride for passengers, as well as less carbon emissions during the journey.

The Salamanca will sail with around 500 cubic metres of LNG and will be refuelled about twice a week in Bilbao, at the new refuelling station created by Repsol, which is expected to start operating in the coming days.

A cryogenic tank with the capacity to hold up to a thousand cubic metres at -160 °C degrees has been installed there. The president of the Port Authority, Ricardo Barkala, explained that it will also provide service to other gas vessels that use the port.

Mathieu stressed that after facing challenges such as Brexit and the pandemic, “the connections between the United Kingdom, Bilbao and Santander are almost complete for this season”.

Salamanca’s sister ship the Santoña is set to join Brittany ferries’ fleet next year. Also, LNG-powered, it will connect Portsmouth with Santander. Two more LNG-electric hybrid vessels will also be ready by 2025, connecting Portsmouth with St Malo and Caen in France.

Salamanca is one of the largest ships in the Brittany Ferries fleet. She is 214.5 metres long, with ten decks and can host up to 1,015 passengers in 341 cabins. With nearly 3km of space, she can also transport cars and freight.

READ ALSO – LATEST: P&O Ferries cancels services between France and UK and fires 800 staff

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Air conditioning limits: How Spain’s new energy-saving plan affects you

The first part of the Spanish government’s new energy-saving plan to cut fossil fuel consumption came into force on Wednesday. Here's what you need to know about the main changes, from new rules for shop lighting to temperature limits.

Air conditioning limits: How Spain's new energy-saving plan affects you

The  government’s ‘Energy Saving Plan’, includes a wide-ranging series of energy-saving measures focused on public buildings, transport hubs, cultural spaces, hotels, shops, department stores and other commercial spaces.

The first part of the plan focuses mainly on lighting and temperature control, which includes the requirement for window lighting to be turned off by 10pm and for the air conditioning to be set at a minimum of 27C in summer and the heat a maximum of 19C in winter.

The plan comes into force this Wednesday from 10pm, however, by midnight on Tuesday and into the early hours on Wednesday morning, many of Spain’s public buildings and large department stores had already gone dark.

Spain’s Minister for Ecological Transition, Teresa Ribera, explained that the measures will be in force until at least November 1st 2023.

READ ALSO – Shop lights out and air con set at 27C: What is Spain’s energy saving plan?

Will all establishments have to set their air conditioning to a limit of 27C in summer?

It was originally reported that all establishments would have to set their aircon to a minimum of 27C, however, later on August 5th, Ribera confirmed that the rule to limit indoor temperatures is “flexible” and that bars and restaurants would not be required to set the aircon at 27C exactly.

“If a different temperature is set, but it is justified, it will be allowed,” Teresa Ribera said in an interview with Catalunya Ràdio. With regards to bars and restaurants, the minister confirmed that “the working legislation recommends the temperature to be around 25C,” she explained later on Onda Cero radio. 

Other places such as nightclubs, gyms, hospitals, trains, and buses will also not need to set the temperature to a minimum of 27C in summer and the heat to a maximum of 19C in winter. They are to be given slightly more flexibility.

Establishments that will have to abide by the strict temperature limit, however, will include supermarkets, transport hubs such as airports and train stations, shopping malls, public administration buildings and cultural venues.

The decree states that health and safety provisions in the workplace prevail over the plan, which sets a temperature of between 17C and 27C in places where sedentary work is carried out, and between 14C and 25C where light work is carried out.

The Spanish government has calculated that for each degree the thermostat is turned up in summer and down in winter, it will save 7 percent in gas consumption.

Which buildings will go dark?

From Wednesday night, according to the decree only shop windows and public buildings that are closed and empty after 10pm must turn off their lights. If they are open past this time, the lights can stay on.

The restriction does not apply to illuminated monuments, signs or billboards, meaning that icons such as Barcelona’s Sagrada Família, Madrid’s Cibeles Fountain and Seville’s La Giralda will stay lit past 10pm.

The rules will also not affect street lighting, so streets will remain well-lit to avoid safety concerns.

“The new measures will apply to buildings. The rules do not apply to exterior lighting, either street lighting, or lighting for ornamental reasons in places other than buildings,” Ribera pointed out last week.

The aim of the plan is to increase energy saving and efficiency, cut costs, encourage a move to more sustainable fuels and renewable energy, amid climate change and a volatile energy market caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.