Solar Sails and Batteries; Cruise Ship Operator Hurtigruten is Going Green
Norwegian cruise ship company Hurtigruten is going green. The company has debuted plans to hybridize its existing fleet and create a new design for a fully electric cruise ship to enter service in 2030.
Maritime Industry Not Kind to the Environment
The damage that uncontrolled and unregulated emissions have had on our environment is hard to calculate. Considering that so many players have contributed to this problem for many years, it’s difficult to assess how much damage has been done and who are the main contributors responsible.
However, what can be assessed is who are the largest contributors now, and unfortunately, the maritime industry is considered to be among the most damaging to our environment. It seems ironic, as the industry relies heavily on our natural abundance of water to move goods and people worldwide.
However, since the advent of diesel fuel engines to power the large behemoths of ships we rely on, maritime shipping and cruise industries have rapidly degraded the environment.
However, some companies have taken the initiative to change their business practices to preserve the natural beauty of the areas they sail by. One of these companies is Hurtigruten Norway, a cruise company that has taken a new initiative to transition entirely to clean energy. Hurtigruten is going green.
How Hurtigruten is Going Green
A large part of the problem of maritime emissions is caused by the burning of bunker fuel, which is preferred by the maritime industry due to its cheaper cost compared to more refined fuels.
This heavy fuel oil being less refined, contains significantly more particulate in its smoke when burned, which has been identified as a major reason why smog has been such a major problem in port cities.
However, this can be reduced significantly with introduced measures such as hybrid electric engines. This is one of the measures the cruise ship company is undertaking.
This action, which is ongoing as of writing, has the potential to reduce their carbon emissions by 25% and reduce NOx emissions by 80%.
However, this is only the beginning of their full transition to clean energy, as they have partnered with 12 maritime partners and SINTEF, a research institute in Norway, in the “Sea Zero” initiative to create a new design for a cruise ship that will be fully electric.
The design is planned to utilize large electric batteries to power the vessel, which have a range of 300-350 nautical miles. To compensate for the depletion of the batteries while underway, the vessel will also have large retractable sails that have two functions; to help move the vessel with the wind and power the batteries, as they will be made of solar panels.
To guarantee safety in the case of a failure of the batteries and sails, this design will also be outfitted with diesel engines that will run on bio-fuel, ammonia, or methanol. Over the next two years, Hurtigruten will test the new technologies before finalizing the design in 2026. Construction is planned to begin in 2027, with the ship entering service in 2030.
See also: Green Hydrogen; The Future of Clean Shipping.
Despite Voluntary Action, Regulation is Needed
These developments are incredibly inspiring, as there has been no regulatory push from the Norwegian government to force Hurtigruten into making these decisions.
Hurtigruten CEO Daniel Skjeldam said in an interview with Skift, “The reason why we are so focused on this is that a lot of our operation has historically been around the poles, both in the south and in north. And that’s where you see the effect of climate change the earliest. I mean personally, seeing the melting glaciers, seeing the changing weather conditions in the high north. It is scary.”
In the same interview, he encouraged lawmakers to regulate the industry regardless, though, as he has observed that other maritime cruise and shipping lines have not cared about their emissions and have taken measures to hide the damage they are doing.
As we move forward into a world powered by clean energy, it will be companies like Hurtigruten that will show that it is not only possible but also beneficial for the consumer and company.