Hurtigruten Norway has positioned itself at the forefront of the cruise sector’s zero-emissions strategy, with the company’s CEO saying actions speak louder than words.
Speaking exclusively with LATTE on Saturday in Norway, Hedda Felin said the recently announced ‘Sea Zero’ initiative to operate its first zero-emissions vessel on the Norwegian coastal passage by 2030 was critical for driving change in an industry balking to take action.
Felin said there are “a few empty ambition statements” regarding zero-emission activity coming out from the industry. “In Norway, one percent of vessels have zero-emissions technology, and worldwide it’s 0.1%.”
“Our industry is not at the forefront, so someone needs to go first,” she said after Hurtigruten Norway raised its hand this month.
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The forward-thinking program builds on Hurtigruten Norway’s current hybrid conversion of its fleet of seven ships that operate the ‘mail-run’ return route between Bergen and Kirkens. One vessel, MS Vesterålen, had new engines and battery packs installed in 2019. Three others are scheduled to go through the same procedure and the entire fleet will be overhauled by 2023.
While the current fleet upgrade will reduce emissions by 25% and NOx emissions by 80%, ‘Sea Zero’ takes hybrid conversion to the next level. Partnering with independent research organisation SINTEF, Hurtigruten Norway will develop next-generation vessels – working from a blank canvas.
Felin says the hybrid conversion to make the fleet more sustainable might add between 10-15 years of longevity to the life of those coastal voyage vessels.
“But we need to get emissions down. We also need to combine it with biofuels that we can use over a certain period of time and on different ships”
“After these 10-15 years, we have to start to think ‘what will the fleet look like?’ Is it hydrogen, is it going to be ammonia, will it be larger battery packages? Just what will the solution be?” Felin pondered.
“For the future fleet we wanted to be a bit bold and see what we can actually achieve in that space because we need to start that planning now. To build a new ship, to be ready for 2030, we need to start building it in four years.”
“We want to be more concrete so we partnered with the leader in this space in Europe, which is SINTEF.
“I’m so curious and they are super eager, and really inspired by this task. They say that it is possible. That’s the first objective. They will focus first on energy efficiency.”
“I think this is a rule for the entire society. We cannot run on the same amount of energy and just find it renewable. It is not possible. The first step is to reduce our consumption and then we can find a use of alternative or other types of sources to make it greener.”
Questioned by LATTE if LNG was being taken into consideration, as many cruise ship operators are moving too, Felin said that source wasn’t competitive for the hybrid upgrades.
“LNG also takes up huge amounts of space on the ship, plus its heavy, so I also see that the total energy footprint of a ship with LNG is actually not competitive”.
“Everything has been good in terms of a bridging fuel, or bridging technology until the new technology is ready, so we should not underestimate LNG in that respect,” she said.
More from Felin in next week’s LATTE Cruise.