The terminal of the company Toro y Betolaza in the Port of Bilbao has been the setting chosen by the shipping company Finnlines, of the Grimaldi Group, for the official presentation of its ultra green hybrid ro-ro vessels of the Finneco series, the most efficient and sustainable ships for the transport of goods currently operating in Northern Europe and amongst the most environmentally friendly in the world.
These vessels link Bilbao weekly with the ports of Zeebrugge and Antwerp in Belgium, Helsinki and Hanko in Finland, and Paldiski in Estonia, as well as connecting with other ports in the United Kingdom, Sweden and Norway via Zeebrugge.
The three new sister ships, “Finneco I”, “Finneco II” and “Finneco III”, are a tangible expression of the commitment of Finnlines and the Grimaldi Group to sustainability and innovation, as well as to the port of Bilbao, a benchmark for the environment and energy transition among European ports.
These hybrid Eco-class ro-ro vessels are equipped with state-of-the-art technology, such as lithium battery systems for emission-free and noise-reducing manoeuvring and docking, and solutions focused on reducing consumption and environmental impact. Other innovations include 600 m² of solar panels to produce clean power for use on board, Promas Lite systems to increase energy efficiency, an innovative air lubrication system that creates layers of bubbles to reduce friction and hydrodynamic drag, the design of the hull lines to optimise efficiency and the careful selection of the type and size of the main engines to minimise fuel consumption.
With a load capacity of up to 420 semi-trailers or 2,500 vehicles, the vessels are designed to transport any type of general cargo and even wind turbine components such as turbine blades. They also feature dedicated car decks and a large air-conditioned and temperature-controlled area for containers and project cargo/special transports, making them a versatile option to meet the demands of modern trade. In addition, their 250-tonne ramp capacity and 7.4-metre interior headroom provide flexibility and efficiency in every operation.
During the presentation, the President of the Port Authority of Bilbao, Ricardo Barkala, highlighted “the commitment of the Grimaldi Group to the Port of Bilbao and its work in the promotion and development of the maritime industry. This shipping company is the perfect example of how sustainability and service can and must go hand in hand”. He also emphasised “the firm commitment of the Port Authority and the entire port community of Bilbao to innovation and sustainability as factors for offering competitive, environmentally sustainable services that contribute to economic growth”. In this sense, the consolidation of Short Sea routes and the development of intermodality and rail freight transport are priorities on which they are working to be an effective and efficient alternative to much of the road transport that goes to Northern Europe and can be shipped by sea. “We have an energy transition plan underway which will also be to the benefit of shipping companies and, by extension, business and society at large, such as the project to electrify the docks so that ships can turn off their engines when berthed”.
Sebastiano Cirnigliaro, Senior Sales Manager of the Grimaldi Group, highlighted the investment the group is making “year after year to improve the efficiency and competitiveness of the fleet used on this service. In 2015 we started a process of updating and modernising the fleet, equipping all our vessels with scrubbers. In 2018, we invested 70 million euros in expanding the capacity of the three vessels used at that
time on this line, improving both their cargo capacity and the impact per unit shipped, and in the last twelve months we have replaced those three vessels with the latest generation of ultra green hybrid vessels, the Finneco I, II and III”. He also highlighted the commitment of Finnlines and the Grimaldi Group to the port of Bilbao, “where we are confident that investment will continue to strengthen and expand the presence of our Group in this strategic location”, he concluded.
The event took place at the facilities of Toro y Betolaza, exclusive agents of Finnlines, where those attending were welcomed by the company’s Managing Director, Gorka Zabala. Also present at the event were Miguel Pardo, Director of Institutional Relations of the Grimaldi Group, who outlined the advantages offered by these vessels in terms of capacity and reduction of the carbon footprint of the logistics chain, as well as the future challenges affecting the maritime transport industry; Yves de Larivière, Director at Antwerp Euroterminal, who spoke about the strategic importance of ports in the global supply chain; and Evelyne Duthieuw, Commercial Manager at PSA Zeebrugge, who shared her experience and knowledge of port management and its implications for the industry.
About Finnlines and the Grimaldi Group
Finnlines has been operating in the port of Bilbao and at the Toro and Betolaza terminal for more than 50 years, when it was still the Finnish public shipping company and its main activity was exporting paper from Scandinavia to the Spanish market. Since its acquisition by the Grimaldi Group, the company has invested resources to improve the efficiency, profitability and sustainability of its business, and is today a leading ro-ro and ro-pax shipping company, both in the Baltic and in Northern Europe. Its modern, environmentally friendly and sustainable fleet of 9 ro-pax and 14 ro-ro vessels connects 21 ports in ten different countries, providing passenger services between Finland and Germany and Sweden, as well as between Germany and Sweden themselves.
The company runs a weekly service to and from Bilbao, where it currently moves some 5,500 semi-trailers a year, with a transit time of two days with Belgium and seven days with Finland. The capacity and versatility of its vessels enables Finnlines to provide a competitive and efficient service for import/export traffic in any cargo segment: containers, cars, trailers, machinery, project cargo, break bulk, etc. It is also the leading shipping company in the transport of paper from Finland for, amongst other uses, packaging for the food industry.