Hurtigruten Norwegian Coastal Express unveils ‘Sea Zero’ vision

Zero-emissions ships earmarked for launch by 2030

Hurtigruten Norwegian Coastal Express has partnered with leading research organisation SINTEF to create zero-emission ships for the Norwegian coast.

Daniel Skjeldam, CEO Hurtigruten Group, said: “We are excited to announce our most ambitious sustainability initiative to date; creating solutions for zero-emission passenger ships, using the Norwegian coast as the ideal case.

“Our ambition is to sail an emission-free Hurtigruten Norwegian Coastal Express ship by 2030,” Skjeldam revealed.

Svolvær, Norway | Credit: Helfried Weyer/Hurtigruten

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Since its start in 1893, Hurtigruten Norwegian Coastal Express has carried local passengers, goods, and tourists between 34 ports – in what is known as the most beautiful voyage in the world.

Currently, the company is upgrading its existing fleet through what is one of the biggest enhancement programs in European shipping. The project will see CO2-emissions cut by 25% and NOx by 80%.

Hurtigruten Norway aims to be a leader in sustainable travel, and CEO Hedda Felin, says the clear goal for the company is zero emissions.

“We have built our last fossil-fueled ship for the Norwegian Coastal Express. When we sail the coastal route for the next 100 years, it will be emission-free, making the world’s most beautiful voyage even more spectacular,” Felin declared.

Hurtigruten says the Norwegian Coastal Express’ route from Bergen to Kirkenes is the perfect starting point for the development of zero-emission passenger ships.

“We as a group have ships sailing all over the world, and we see that the Norwegian coast is an ideal location for this kind of game-changing project, where we can benefit from the innovative Norwegian expertise in green shipping,” Skjeldam added.

Hurtigruten Norwegian Coastal Express holds a unique position along the coast as it stops at 34 ports, which means there are strong opportunities to use future infrastructure for green energy, and several ports plan to expand shore power connectivity. Norway’s strong research and maritime industry and political willingness to support green shipping are positive factors that make the Norwegian coast a perfect fit for this type of initiative.

Research institute SINTEF on board

The Norwegian research institute SINTEF has been on board the journey from the start. SINTEF is one of Europe’s largest independent research organisations, which holds the world’s leading professional environments within green maritime technology and energy systems.

“With this project, Hurtigruten Norway and SINTEF can show the world that green and sustainable passenger ships can be achieved in the near future. Cutting emissions in the maritime sector is by no means an easy feat, and we need ambitious companies like Hurtigruten Norway to take initiatives like this,” said Alexandra Bech Gjørv, President of SINTEF.

The project includes all aspects of a new ship build program from design, propulsion, energy and fuel, through to hotel operations and digital solutions. The goal is that the new ships will be emission-free to both air and sea, and sustainable from a circular economy perspective. As a partner, SINTEF will provide analysis, research and development.

“The first phase of the project has already been kicked-off and consists of a feasibility study, looking at technological and operational solutions for zero-emission Hurtigruten Coastal Express ships on the Norwegian coast,” said Trond Johnsen, SINTEF’s Ocean Market Director.

In the next phase, leading maritime industry partners will be invited to participate in taking the project further towards development and qualification of innovative green ship designs and technologies.

“Zero-emission fuels and power systems is an obvious focus area for the project. However, the availability, production cost and energy density of such fuels will require massive cuts in energy usage as well, making energy efficiency the probable main challenge,” acknowledged Johnsen.

“We are proud to partner with SINTEF Ocean to pioneer the new solutions needed. In order to transform high ambitions into actual results, coupling our knowledge of the coast with SINTEF’s expertise is a key factor,” Felin concluded.

All images courtesy of Hurtigruten

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