RMC continues its strong growth despite COVID-19 – the Finnish maritime industry sees opportunities in aiming towards zero emissions
Held on Wednesday, 26 May 2021, Rauma Marine Constructions’ seminar on the Finnish maritime industry discussed the future of the industry and the future of seafaring in general. The maritime industry is an important and growing industry in Finland. The annual volume of business is EUR 9 billion, and it employs around 30,000 people.
From a global perspective, the industry is under disruption. Climate change is driving companies to build vessels with smaller environmental impacts, and the demand for low-emission and zero emission solutions in seafaring, as well as other modes of transport, is enormous. As a result of this transition, a large share of ships worldwide must be modernised, which is an opportunity for Finland.
The COVID-19 pandemic had a clear impact on the maritime industry, and especially on the building of cruise ships. The pandemic put a stop to many shipping companies’ operations, which impacted both their orders and their solvency. Although the pandemic has been poison to some maritime industry players, there is still a strong sense of confidence in a bright future.
“The maritime industry is a key industry in Finland. In addition to low-carbon solutions, the market is huge for solutions advancing digitalisation, and Finland must take part in this. General interest towards travelling by ship has been growing for a long time, and there’s still potential for growth. In the long run, travelling by sea will become an increasingly popular choice,” said Elina Andersson, Secretary General at the Finnish Marine Industries.
RMC kept growing dispite the pandemic
RMC’s growth continued in 2020 despite the global pandemic, and the outlook for 2021 is also positive. In February, Rauma shipyard had to suspend production for some days due to a coronavirus outbreak, but the implementation of stricter safety measures and testing enabled a quick return to normal. To prevent a new wave of infections, testing has been continued after resuming production.
The shipyard is now working on four corvettes for the Finnish Defence Forces and two car and passenger ferries: Wasaline’s Aurora Botnia and Tallink’s MyStar. In March 2021, RMC and Tasmanian shipping company TT-Line Company signed an agreement on the construction of two car and passenger ferries.
“At the moment, the shipyard can build two different ships side by side, which has sped up our growth. In the future, our goal is to establish RMC as a global leader in the production of RoPax ferries and to produce prominent government vessels such as the corvettes for the Defence Forces and icebreakers,” said Jyrki Heinimaa, RMC’s CEO and President.
Synthetic, liquefied and gas fuels are the key to zero emissions
The main engines for both Wasaline’s Aurora Botnia and Tallink’s MyStar are equipped with a dual-fuel solution. Their primary fuel is either liquefied natural gas (LNG) or liquefied biogas (LBG). Biogas in particular is thought to have potential for cutting emissions in marine transport, said Martti Larmi, Professor at Aalto University.
“Reaching zero emissions in global seafaring will depend on liquefied and gas fuels. Biogas is one of the more realistic options for the near future, because the technology it requires is already in use.”
As technology advances, the industry may also be able to use a more extensive array of synthetic fuels, such as hydrogen, synthetic methane and methanol, as well as various mixtures of organic and synthetic fuels.
RMC typically builds vessels for shorter distances and local traffic. Wasaline’s Aurora Botnia, for example, will operate between Vaasa, Finland, and Umea, Sweden. The two ferries for TT-Line Company will operate between Tasmania and the Australian continent.
“This will enable the use of locally produced energy in ships. For instance, the biogas fuelling the Aurora Botnia can be made using organic waste from Ostrobothnian farms,” said Mika Laurilehto, Sales Director at RMC.
Picture: The panel section of the seminar organised by RMC discussed alternative future fuels in the shipping industry. Mika Laurilehto, Sales Director at RMC, Matti-Mikael Koskinen, CEO of ESL Shipping, Kenneth Widell, Project Manager at Wärtsilä, and Satu Hänninen, Special adviser at The Finnish Transport and Communications Agency Traficom, participated in the panel.