Green tide for Norwegian coast

by | 5th May 2017 | News

Home News Green tide for Norwegian coast

The Naval Architect: May 2017

Implementation can be the hardest part of any regime change, especially in a market environment where will goes hand in hand with financial reasoning. To date, numerous strategies exist to curtail and cap emissions from ships, but their implementation is still slower than many in the industry would like despite a lot of good will and the ‘greenest’ of intentions from many shipowners and working groups.


Norway, however, may be a different beast when it comes to addressing environmental issues. Consider the automotive industry in the country, for example. According to Mjøs, more battery cars have been sold in 2017 than traditional gas and diesel in the country thanks to generous, government-funded incentives: free ferry transport, free parking, no taxes for all-electric vehicles and a taxing system based on emissions rather than engine size. Indeed, Norway has been one of Tesla’s most important automotive markets.


Given this success, Mjøs is calling for the domestic maritime industry to follow suit; to receive the same legislative treatment and to demonstrate what emissions reductions can be achieved on a national level with a state-sponsored CO2 fund. This would mimic the format of the already in operation NOx fund: a NOK600 million (US$70 million) per annum resource that subscribers contribute to and take out of as new eco-technologies (focussed on NOx reduction) are implemented. The new Hurtigruten vessels, Roald Amundsen and Fridtjof Nansen, are proof of the effectiveness of this strategy, having used the fund to become the world’s first hybrid-powered explorer ships.


What makes Norway different?
Two years ago, a DNV GL study of all marine traffic in Norwegian waters was carried out based on AIS and satellite data. It revealed that 55% of emissions came from domestic shipping. With such a high proportion of emissions coming locally, and therefore falling under the regulation of the national government, Norway is well-positioned to target emissions from these particular ships and to approach how it might modify its economy for the good of the local (and global) environment. 


The national government aims to reduce domestic shipping emissions by 50% by 2040, according to Mjøs. However, a substantial level of change is needed to achieve this, he continues. If ships remain as efficient and environmentally friendly as they are today and the economy doesn’t change, emissions will rise, rather than fall, by 50%. Of course, this seems an unlikely, worst-case scenario, as technologies will no doubt progress over the 20+ years ahead. But, even taking into account the adoption of 17 breakthrough technologies, including battery hybridisation and Flettner rotors, emissions will still be up by 10%, insists Mjøs. “To be -50% we must use alternative fuels: bio-fuel, LNG, all-electric, and hydrogen.”


Here enters the Green Coastal Shipping Program (GCSP), a collaboration between government authorities and the private sector. In 2015, the DNV GL-led program began targeting the previously mentioned alternatives, paying specific attention to short-sea maritime transport. In its first phase it evaluated the emission reduction potential for biofuel, battery, LNG and hydrogen-based transportation in Norway, additionally carrying out five initial pilot study projects:

  1. A plug-in-hybrid cargo ferry (Norlines)
  2. Conversion of a general cargoship to an LNG fuelling vessel (Øytank Bunkerservice/EGN)
  3. A next generation green shuttle tanker (Teekay)
  4. A hybrid aquaculture vessel (ABB/Cargo Freighters’ Association)
  5. Creation of a Green Port (Risavika havn)


Now in its second phase, the program is following up on those projects already carried out, but is also establishing five new pilots:

  1. A plug-in hybrid biofuel vessel (Torghatten)
  2. An autonomous all-electric cargo feeder (Kongsberg)
  3. A hydrogen-powered high speed ship (Flora county)
  4. Moving fish transport from road to sea (Cargo Freighters’ Assoc.)
  5. A low emission fishing vessel (Fiskebåt)


Its overriding aim is to bring all major players in the marine value chain together and to build a complete ecosystem for the development and adoption of green technologies. Mjøs says: “People must lift at the same time and grow together” in order to make this happen. If not, there is a chicken or egg scenario in which a shipowner is compelled to wait for infrastructure while infrastructure waits on the market and development shudders to a halt. The government must facilitate the whole thing to happen,  he insists.


“The biggest challenge [for meeting the emissions targets laid out] is that the markets for green technology are not working properly; there must be incentives for shipowners,” says Mjøs. However, GCSP is having success in gaining commitments from its participants, which have increased in number from 18 to 35. These commitments mean that those involved in any of the projects have an obligation to adopt successful studies, and thereby push and promote the development of the technologies and designs established.


Phase two of the program aims to address issues of wider adoption, focusing on business cases of key stake holders, executing policy related activities, performing barrier studies, defining incentives and instruments for key business cases and segments, and calculating business and socio-economic arguments for the uptake of green technologies in the local maritime industry.


“In the future, most ships will become plug-in hybrid if the Norwegian authorities show the way by facilitating competitive net tariffs,” says Mjøs. “Otherwise it may lead to environmental projects not being undertaken and that shore investments are not being utilised to charge, or to [provide] shore power.” In other words, he concludes: “To get an effective implementation of the use of shorepower and a fast market penetration of plug-in hybrid ships, we need a national coordinated strategy.”


Where next?
A large number of ferry connections are up for renewal in the next four to five years. This offers a series of opportunities to make environmentally-centred design decisions that can help to realise the 40% reduction in emissions. The national parliament is supportive, according to Mjøs, but it remains to be seen if the problem of incentives (as mentioned above) will be addressed. For Mjøs’ part, he expects an “explosion of electrification of ferry connections” and predicts that 2/3 of the public ferry connections will have low or zero emissions by 2030.


Ship charging capabilities will also have to develop if this is to be the case. And Mjøs reveals that work is ongoing to produce a five minute charging solution for a vessel that can carry 120 cars and 360 passengers.


In terms of newbuilds pushing the alternative fuel boundaries in Norway, Color Line recently announced its development of the biggest plug-in hybrid ship in the world, which will be built by Ulstein Verft. The new 160m-long ferry will carry up to 500 cars and 2,000 passengers as it navigates the Sandefjord – Strömstad route between Norway and Sweden, utilising shore power facilities at the Norwegian port it calls at as well as some power regeneration from onboard generators. Most significantly, it is to be equipped with (what will be) the world’s largest marine battery at 4MW/h, which will allow it to run emission-free for up to 30 minutes as it travels into and out of Sandefjord harbour.


However, Color Line’s ferry is unlikely to hold on to its electric crown long, as Jens Lassen, SVP of newbuilding and projects at Hurtigruten, has already announced that Fridtjof Nansen will be upgraded to feature a similar 4MW battery, more than doubling the 1.2MW battery provision the first in series ship Roald Amundsen will include.


With battery prices dropping and energy densities increasing, the uptake of batteries has been much faster than LNG as a fuel. From information delivered at the Maritime Battery Forum, more than 90 ships in operation or under construction feature battery power solutions. The number of LNG ships may be larger at approaching 200 ships, but considering the timeline of development the “explosion of electrification” Mjøs anticipates may soon be on its way – LNG ships have been discussed and developed for 17 years while Li-ion batteries in shipping have only been on the move for three to four years, according to Mjøs.  


The Norwegian maritime industry is clearly keen to be at the centre of a wider green maritime economy. Mjøs says many of the companies based in the country are promoting internal projects and subsequent knowledge of abatement solutions to other nations with substantial environmental drivers, such as China. “The Norwegian coast is to be an incubator for the development and export of environmental technologies and green transportation services,” concludes Mjøs. In this way, Norway’s drive to deliver specialist insight on green projects is promoting a more sustainable maritime economy, both at home and abroad. “If you plan to go green, check Norway”, Mjøs finishes.

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