Of the 60+ fully electric or hybrid vessels in operation globally, 40 percent are Norwegian. Norway is decarbonizing its maritime industry and a green revolution is going on in the Norwegian fjords and Norway’s maritime industry. The country is using its oil and gas riches to engineer emission-free vessels. There is a green revolition in the Norwegian fjords.
From its first fully electric ferry, to the development of large hybrid cruise ships, Norway is looking beyond road transport and takes on the larger and more challenging sector of marine transport. The country emerges as a pioneer on the development of a new generation of marine vessels.
A Green Revolution in the Norwegian Fjords
The green revolution in the Norwegian fjords are currently creating great interest in international media. The Norwegian ferries are portrayed as the first step towards a decarbonized, international shipping industry.
Western Norway’s rustic port village of Flåm, a remote goat-farming hamlet and summer escape set deep among the region’s fjords framed by its towering, snow-capped peaks, seemed an unlikely launch site for the future of sustainable nautical travel.
However, electrification proves highly beneficial also for transfer ferries operating in the fjords. between shore towns; Norway has approximately 180 ferries operating between shore towns across the country. The first zero-emissions ferry, MF “Ampere”, started sailing between the villages of Oppedal and Lavik along the Sognefjord in 2015.
Related: The Postman Pat Vehicle from Norway
Future of the Fjords
The sleek, black-and-white, 42-meter passenger vessel Future of the Fjords, a catamaran anchored in Flåm’s tiny harbor at the end of the glimmering Aurlandsfjord, is a glimpse into the future of maritime vessels. It is the sister ship of Vision of the Fjords, which won the title “ship of the year” at the Maritime Future Summit SMM in Hamburg 2016.
In recent years Norway has seen a growing awareness of the environmental impact of maritime transport, and an increasing political pressure to clean up transport in the country. Future of the Fjords houses 5,500 kilograms of batteries. Otherwise, nothing announces the curious boat as a pioneer of the next generation of seafaring, save for the neat block lettering on its bow.
The elephant in the room
When it comes to cutting emissions from transport, shipping (together with aviation) has often been referred to as the elephant in the room, having been excluded from the Paris agreement and being inadequately addressed under existing UN conventions and EU legislation.
With our more than 1000 fjords, Norway’s road infrastructure is a network of tunnels and hundreds of short ferry services to connect communities. Norway is also a big offshore and shipping nation, with the world’s 4th largest fleet.
“This has led to a revolution in transport power and a burgeoning maritime cleantech cluster in the country. It was positive state and industry backed encouragement that saw Norway lead the way with LNG-fueled shipping from 2000 and it is now leading the way with battery powered shipping,” writes online shipping news and analysis service Fathom.
The future of emission free vessels
Norway has ruled that by 2026, access to its two fjord areas classified as World Heritage Sites, which includes part of the Aurlandsfjord, will be restricted to zero-emission vessels. Four years later, the country will begin restricting other fjords and Norwegian waters to ships with low- or zero-emission technology.
Marine transport has been in the shadow of road transport, though it is impossible to neglect its contribution to local air pollution and serious impact on human health. With 90% of the ports in Europe being located in major cities, it is time to step up the decarbonization process of marine transport.
The International Council on Clean Transportation warns sea transport could be responsible for 17 percent of CO2 emissions by 2050, up from 2-3 percent now. The push towards solutions that can allow ships to reduce their reliance on fuels like diesel and heavy fuel oil are therefore prevalent.
A Green Revolution in the Norwegian Fjords, written by Tor Kjolberg