Rebecca Moore believes a new ship design will help to decarbonise the cruise industry
A cruising concept has been developed to meet the goal of zero emissions in the Norwegian fjords from 2026 – but this design will have an impact far beyond this region.
It could be adopted worldwide as it is a realistic concept that will allow cruise operators to meet the emissions regulations slated for 2030 and 2050.
The cruise concept has been developed by NCE Maritime CleanTech and its cluster partners and covers three phases. The first phase is aimed at meeting the Norwegian Government’s directive of banning tourist ships from three world heritage Fjords if they emit air or sea emissions.
The concept aims to meet the regulation by retrofitting platform supply vessels (PSVs) with power packs that can then be attached by cable to cruise ships when they enter the fjords to power them with electricity.
This is an innovative solution to meeting the Norwegian directive. It means cruise ships, with minimal retrofitting and costs, can still come to the fjords. There are plenty of PSVs able to supply cruise ships due to the downturn in the offshore industry. This concept could be adopted in other locations where there is a plentiful supply of PSVs. The power packs offer the potential to use other energy, such as hydrogen. Indeed, NCE Maritime CleanTech and its partners are looking into developing a value chain for producing liquified hydrogen.
This is just the first phase of the cruise concept – the next two phases are designed to meet the 2030 and 2050 emissions regulation. These involve using modular power packs charged at port and fitted into cruise ships. These powerpacks would be stored in interchangeable containers at port that could be swapped between ships and and used by different cruise operators.
This scheme offers so much potential, with the key being that the power packs are interchangeable. This standardisation is crucial because it offers an easy, quick and cost-effective way to meet the regulation. The concept also sees these powerpacks topped up by wind and solar power. Again, I see that as a viable solution, as although these power methods are not powerful enough now, they are developing. Ways to pick up wind to use as propulsion are progressing and solar cells are already giving more energy per square metre than previously, and this increase will continue.
And the modularity is not restricted to the battery packs – the entire ship would be modular, with base platforms provided, upon which are placed region-specific hotels which might be more suited to the Arctic or the Caribbean for instance. This standardisation would cut costs and allow large and relatively quick production of cruise ships, enabling the strict future directives to be met around the world.
While the latest concepts will of course take time and effort to develop, I believe using PSVs as power packs for cruise ships is a good start as it is a foundation upon which the standardisation of equipment and modularity can be developed, ultimately leading to a cruise deign that can be used worldwide to meet future emissions regulation.
It is important that Royal Caribbean and Carnival are involved in the workshops looking at solutions to develop this zero-emissions cruise concept. Input from the cruise industry about its needs, challenges and a realistic take on what can be achieved is needed for this concept to properly meet this sector’s needs.