Breath of fresh air with first hybrid boat

Local | Maisy Mok 10 Jul 2020

The Star Ferry is running green - its first diesel-electric vessel set sail yesterday, boasting that gas emissions can be half those of traditional boats.

The low-emission Morning Star ferry was launched after a six-month, HK$8 million revamp.

It runs between Wan Chai and Tsim Sha Tsui ferry pier in 10 minutes during morning and evening peak hours.

The ferry is powered by a system consisting of two diesel-powered main generators that supply electricity to drive the propulsion engine for sailing, replacing the traditional two-stroke marine diesel engine.

"In terms of reducing emissions, the effect is very noticeable," said general manager Jacky Ho Lung-wei. "Over the past two months, emissions have plunged 50 percent or more."

The new generator complies with the standards of the International Maritime Organization Tier II and US Environmental Protection Agency Tier III.

Coupled with low-sulfur fuel, Morning Star can reduce black smoke emission and eliminate the pungent smell emitted from the traditional generator, Ho said.

The ferry firm and the environment bureau will keep monitoring Morning Star and statistics on emissions. "Such success will not only help improve air quality in the harbor but also pave the way for the development of fully electric-powered ferries in Hong Kong," said environment secretary Wong Kam-sing at yesterday's launch.

Two staircases were also built to connect the decks.

Passenger capacity has been reduced from 523 to 399 due to the readjustment of seating layout to provide more cabin space.

Ho said as the ferry provides life jackets and floats, the red and white life raft on top of the original ferry has been removed and the original exterior design restored.

The firm decided to convert the ferry, launched in 1965, as it is one of two that can provide longer service.

Ho said ferry frequency will remain the same at 12 minutes, and the fare remains at HK$2.70 for adults and HK$1.60 for children aged three to 12 Mondays to Fridays. On weekends and public holidays, it's HK$3.70 and HK$2.20, respectively.

The environmental protection department chipped in with HK$3 million from its pilot green transport fund.

Morning Star is one of two ferries converted in a fleet of eight.

The other one is World Star, which runs a tourist service. Its system was installed 3 years ago.

There are plans to deploy Morning Star to serve Central to Tsim Sha Tsui, while another daily passenger ferry, Silver Star, is next in line for a conversion.

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