Finnish shipping company Meriaura Group is developing a carbon neutral vessel concept designed specially for lake, canal, and sea feeder traffic.

The concept is based on hybrid propulsion that combines sustainably produced bio-oil and battery technology. In addition to innovative energy solutions, the group’s aim is to automate the cargo handling process, and to take full advantage of the opportunities brought by digitalisation, Meriaura Group said.

Jussi Mälkiä, president of Meriaura Group, said that the goal is to launch the concept in 2024.

Details and a commercial operating model are under development, with a plan to trial the solution in lake Saimaa in Finland. Meriaura Group said that the Saimaa canal locks are being extended and the size of the concept vessel will correspond to the canal’s new dimensions.

Mälkiä added: “Lake Saimaa is a perfect pilot area for our concept. The region’s strong and progressive industry needs a clear transport route, which will be made possible by the extension of the canal locks.

“In the future’s competition, a cost-effective and environmentally friendly transport chain is needed to ensure the vitality of the Saimaa region,” he added.