Norway's forward-looking environmental policies make it a world leader in low and zero-emission shipping
Geirangerfjord and Nærøyfjord, added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 2005, have long been popular destinations for cruise ships, with more than 300,000 passengers visiting in 2017. But the Norwegian Government has built on a 2015 resolution requiring all new ferry tenders to have low or zero-emission technology installed by declaring the World Heritage site to be the world’s first zero-emissions zone at sea.
“It is a brave policy we hope other nations and unique UNESCO World Heritage marine sites will adopt so that we, together with all international cruise lines, can protect our crown jewels of the ocean,” said Geirangerfjord World Heritage Foundation director Katrin Blomvik.
While rendering a vessel capable of operating entirely emissions-free might seem daunting, it is one that Norwegian designers, builders and operators are more than ready for. Ambitious politicians and government institutions already require many ferry routes to be low-emission or emission-free, resulting in many battery hybrids or pure battery-operated newbuild orders and deliveries.
One such example is Color Hybrid, with which Color Line, the largest cruise ferry line to operate on routes to and from Norway, is breaking new ground.
The environmentally friendly ship will be the world’s largest battery-hybrid ship when it enters service between Sandefjord and Strømstad in June next year, capable of charging via cable from shore facilities or being recharged on board by the ship’s own generators. It is 160.0 m long with a beam of 27.1 m and a draught of 6.0 m. It has a maximum speed of 17 knots and can carry 2,000 passengers and about 500 cars.
Ulstein Verft is building the vessel, which is currently under construction at the Crist shipyard in Gdynia, Poland and will be towed to Ulsteinvik in October before its targeted delivery date of May 2019. The vessel is being built for the Norwegian Ordinary Ship Register.
Color Line has installed shore power facilities in its Norwegian ports Oslo, Kristiansand, Larvik and Sandefjord. The facilities in Sandefjord will be used to charge the batteries of Color Hybrid.
Color Line chief executive Trond Kleivdal emphasised the environmental and sustainable development in his speech at the keel-laying. “The hybrid technology and other environmentally friendly solutions on board Color Hybrid will reduce noise and emissions of environmentally harmful gases to a minimum.”
“Predictability and an internationally competitive framework have been of the utmost importance when deciding to build the world’s largest plug-in ship, and the framework also makes it possible for us to look at further investments from a Norwegian standpoint, with future new and innovative maritime environmental solutions,” added Mr Kleivdal.
Ulstein Group chief executive Gunvor Ulstein commented “Ulstein puts a lot of emphasis into developing greener, smarter and safer solutions. We are very happy with our co-operation with Color Line and that we have reached this important milestone together. We are looking forward to the hull arriving at Ulstein Verft in October.”
Color Line is also involved in an R&D project with Rolls-Royce, Norled and the Norwegian Coastal Administration to provide a new electrical system with a more efficient power output that is cheaper to run.
Fjord1 speeds ahead with new technology
Ferry operator Fjord1, based in Florø, has 22 all-electric ferries on its orderbook, with three already delivered. It was the first ferry operator to use LNG in the passenger shipping market, has two vessels that run on biodiesel and is involved in a project using hydrogen as fuel. In operation since 1858, it runs 70 vessels and owns 50% of the Norway’s ferry marketshare.
Speaking to Norwegian Solutions, Fjord1’s head of projects and newbuilding Arild Austrheim said “We are by far the leading company installing batteries in ships.”
Mr Austrheim added that this was being driven by the strict requirements of local governments in Norway to operate routes with low or zero emissions. The all-electric ferries span six large tender contracts and 18 different routes.
“We operate contracts on behalf of provincial governments, are competing with other companies and have to meet price and environmental criteria – we are competing on the highest degree of electric operation at the lowest costs,” he said.
The 25 all-electric ferries represent “quite a hectic scenario” for Fjord1, as so many of them are being delivered in such a short space of time. The 22 remaining ferries on the company’s orderbook will all be delivered by the end of next year, meaning that from the second half of 2019 Fjord1 will take delivery of a new vessel every third week on average.
“We are introducing a lot of technology at very high speed and there is no time to learn from the first ferry, so we are learning now,” Mr Austrheim said. “One of the things that we really hope the market will develop further are fully automatic charging solutions,” he added.
All the ferries are designed to operate as fully electric, but hybrid generators have been installed on board as a back-up. Out of the 25 vessels, 13 are being constructed by Havyard Ship Technology in Norway. The remaining ferries are being built by Sefine, Cemre and Tersan shipyards in Turkey.
Mr Austrheim said “We are building a lot locally as we believe in supporting local communities and due to the quality and cost efficiency of building in Norway.” Havyard is only a few hours’ drive from Fjord1’s headquarters in Floro. He pointed out that even though half of the ferries were being built in Turkey, they were being built with a lot of equipment from Norwegian suppliers and manufacturers, meaning the vessels consist of 30% Norwegian construction.
The company signed a deal this year for Rolls-Royce to supply its autocrossing system to 13 of its new all-electric vessels. All contracts also include two Azipull propellers for each vessel with an accompanying propeller control system from Rolls-Royce.
The automatic crossing system provides safe, predictable and energy-efficient transit back and forth by automatically controlling the vessel’s acceleration, deceleration, speed and track. The two energy-efficient Rolls-Royce Azipull thrusters respond adaptively to environmental conditions to ensure optimal behaviour and maximise efficiency.
The energy consumption of the new ferries will be measured and Fjord1 will be penalised if more energy is used than that included in the bid. The autocrossing solution will help the company ensure it sticks to the criteria specified in the contract.
“The idea is that it automatically repeats the best way of driving a ferry on a route. It will automatically calculate and act accordingly with the most energy efficient way to do the crossing and repeat this,” said Mr Austrheim.
Fjord1 is also involved in a hydrogen project overseen by the Federal Road Administration. It is developing a concept for a ferry using hydrogen and is competing with other operators to do this at the lowest cost.
“For some types of operation, hydrogen could lead to improvements and increase the opportunity to have zero-emission operations,” said Mr Austrheim.