Hurtigruten Norway has unveiled plans for its first zero-emission electric and wind-powered ships, featuring retractable sails, slated to enter service in 2030. The new ship will be 135 meters long, and comprise 270 cabins, with a capacity of 500 guests and 99 crew.
The vision for the future is the culmination of extensive research and findings carried out by Hurtigruten Norway, alongside its consortium of 12 maritime partners and research institute SINTEF, under the ‘Sea Zero’ project, which commenced in March 2022. This update comes weeks out from the company celebrating its 130th anniversary.
Hurtigruten Norway’s future ships will be electric and equipped with batteries that charge in port. Combining 60-megawatt battery solutions with wind technology, the vessel is expected to feature numerous firsts and improved solutions that do not exist on cruise ships today, including retractable sails with solar panels, artificial intelligence maneuvering, contra-rotating propellers, and multiple retractable thrusters. Additional technologies include air lubrication, advanced hull coating, and proactive hull cleaning.
Battery levels will be displayed on the ship’s external sides, while the bridge is expected to reduce significantly in size following enhanced A.I. maneuvering, mimicking that of an airplane cockpit.
Hurtigruten Norway has operated along the Norwegian coast for 130 years and has superior knowledge of the 34 ports it stops at daily. The cruise line will thus use A.I. to collect data that learns the most efficient docking and undocking methods for each port, improving in-port operations in bad or challenging weather.
The three retractable, autonomous wing rigs will comprise 1500 square-metres of solar panels and a total wind surface of 750 square metres, reaching a maximum height of 50m when fully extended.
Hedda Felin, CEO of Hurtigruten Norway said:“When we initially announced the ‘Sea Zero’ project over a year ago, we were faced with the challenge of not knowing which technologies would be available to us in 2030. Our task was to pave the way for new innovations and enhance existing ones to align with our sustainability objectives.
“While some of these technologies have reached a relatively advanced stage, they still necessitate dedicated research and development to ensure successful implementation within the maritime context. On the other hand, certain technologies are still in early development and require fundamental research and thorough testing.
“Following a rigorous feasibility study, we have pinpointed the most promising technologies for our groundbreaking future cruise ships.
“We are committed to delivering a ship that surpasses all others in terms of energy efficiency and sustainability within just a few years,” Felin said.
Just as Hurtigruten Norway has been transporting cargo along the Norwegian coast for 130 years, the new ship will also have a significant cargo hold and transport cars.
In line with the consortia’s focus on sustainable operations tailored to the Norwegian coast, Hurtigruten Norway plans for smaller, custom-built ships that leave a positive footprint with zero emissions to both sea and land. The company plans to transform its entire fleet into zero-emission vessels. As only 0.1% of ships worldwide currently use zero-emission technology, Hurtigruten Norway’s project aims to drastically improve the greater cruise industry’s sustainability record and future of travel.
Hurtigruten Norway strives for superior guest comfort and spectacular views on board its first zero-emission ship. A streamlined shape will result in less air resistance, reduce energy use, and increase passenger comfort. In addition to ample outdoor space, enlarged surface areas with dedicated windows will allow for unparalleled views of what is often described as ‘the world’s most beautiful coastline.’
“We are developing the concept for a very innovative cruise design and researching to find the optimal design methods suitable for zero-emission ships,” said Henrik Burvang, Research and Innovation Manager at VARD, the design and shipbuilding company behind the concept visuals.
“The streamlined shape, with its innovative hull and propulsion solutions, not only reduces energy demand but also increases passenger comfort. In the process, we are developing new design tools and exploring new technologies for energy efficiency.”
Guests will play a key role in minimising energy consumption through an interactive mobile app, where they can operate ultra-modern cabin ventilation, as well as measure their own water and energy consumption.
Sea Zero has now entered a two-year phase in which the proposed technologies will be tried, tested, and developed further in pursuit of the final zero-emission ship. The current
research and development phase focuses on battery production, propulsion technology, hull design, and sustainable practices that reduce energy use to an absolute minimum. Developing new technologies for onboard hotel operations, which can consume up to 50% of the ship’s total energy use, will be crucial to the project’s success. The goal is a 50% energy reduction compared to Hurtigruten Norway’s current ships.
While Hurtigruten Norway is working towards its first zero-emission ship, the company is currently undertaking one of the most extensive environmental upgrades in European maritime history with its existing fleet. Two of the seven ships have been upgraded to battery-hybrid-powered ships, with a third to be upgraded this fall. The five other vessels are being outfitted with various technologies that will cut CO² emissions by 25% and NOx (nitrogen oxides) by 80%. In 2019, sister company Hurtigruten Expeditions introduced the world’s first battery-hybrid-powered ship, MS Roald Amundsen; the Expeditions arm now has three battery-hybrid ships out of its seven-ship fleet.