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Norway's Future Green Fleet

A dramatic fall in battery costs and stricter emission regulations are spurring the Norwegian maritime to develop the most environmentally friendly fleet of coastal vessels.

The Norwegian government recently announced the start of the Green Coastal Shipping Program last January (2015) as a public-private initiative with the key players in the Norwegian coastal shipping industry.  The goal is to create a future Norwegian fleet run entirely or partly on batteries, LNG (liquefied natural gas) and other eco-fuels, even bio-fuels; everything from offshore vessels, ferries, container ships, tankers, and aquaculture and fishing vessels, to tug boats.


The program is currently in the first of four phases with phase one jointly funded by 25 industry partners plus Innovation Norway. The first of the five pilots in phase one is NorLines’ future cargo ferry with LNG/battery hybrid propulsion, zero-emission port sailing and port operation, including electric cranes with energy recovery. The second pilot involves Teekay’s next generation green shuttle tanker using alternative fuels such as LNG and volatile organic compounds for offshore DP operations and batteries in a hybrid solution.


The third is a hybrid aquaculture vessel specified by the Cargo Freighters’ Association and ABB. The fourth, proposed by the Norwegian Gas Association and Øytank Bunkersservice, is a hybridized bulk vessel that can be converted to a low-cost LNG bulker vessel with gas propulsion. The fifth pilot is initiated by the Port of Risavika, which plans to electrify its port operations and offer to charge ships with plug-in hybrid solutions.


Viking Queen
Eidesvik has entered into an agreement for installation of an Energy Storage System (Battery Solution) onboard the vessel Viking Queen, making it the first offshore vessel to get such system installed as a retrofit solution. Photo: Eidesvik



Kinder Egg


The program could provide a “kinder egg” of opportunities for the Norwegian industry, help replace its ageing coastal fleet and drive innovation, said Bjørn Haugland, DNV GL chief sustainability officer. The maritime industry accounts for 900 million tons of CO2, equivalent to 3% globally. The company forecasts that the global shipping industry could reduce CO2 emissions by 60% within 2050.


“That will not be by LNG alone, but bio-fuel, hybrid and electric propulsion,” said Haugland during Maritime and Offshore Forum Oslofjorden Innovation Day in Oslo last April. “There will be a need for low carbon shipping.”


Norway has a particular advantage with this green initiative because of its large maritime industry – the country’s second largest export after petroleum – and dominance in environmentally friendly LNG technology. Norwegian ship owners operate 51 out of the current 63 LNG-fueled ships and will account for 14 of the 76 currently on order. By 2020, DNV GL expects there could be as many as 600 LNG ships operating worldwide.


“There is an increase in international interest from the US, China and Singapore,” says Narve Mjøs, DNV GL director battery services and projects and Green Coastal Shipping Program leader, in an interview. “LNG and batteries will become a large part of the future fleet.” 


LNG has become more relevant for the maritime industry because of new strict environmental regulations. LNG reduces NOx (nitrogen oxides) emissions by up to 85% compared to Heavy Fuel Oil, CO2 emissions by up to 30%, and sulfur down to zero. The shipping industry emits 22 million tons of NOx annually and 12 million tons of SOx (sulfur oxides), according to DNV GL. 


“Here economics and the environment go hand-in-hand,” said Mjøs, pointing to the reduced fuel and maintenance costs. “One of the largest container ships emits the CO2 equivalent of 75,000 cars and two million cars´ worth of NOx emissions annually.”



Better Batteries


One of the other incentives for switching to hybrid and fully electric maritime vessels has been the dramatic drop in lithium-ion (li-ion) battery cell costs. Prices have fallen 75% over the last four years, mostly thanks to the mass production experience by the car industry, said Mjøs.


Norway has been eager when it comes to adopting battery technology on board. Nearly half of all vessels with batteries – 13 out of 25 worldwide - are Norwegian. The most stellar example is the recently baptized NorLed passenger ferry Ampere, the world’s first fully electric car ferry.


Built by the Norwegian company Fjellstrand the ferry transports up to 120 cars and 360 passengers 34 times a day between Lavik and Oppdal on the western coast of Norway. The all-electric car ferry concept ZeroCat 120 behind Ampere won Skiprevyen’s Ship of the Year Prize during the international shipping conference SMM 2014 in Hamburg. 


“A purely battery driven ferry can reduce fuel costs by 30-80%,” said Mjøs.



Maritime Battery Forum


Batteries are particularly suited for offshore supply vessels because of their fast response time. A ship can use battery power to compensate for the increased energy load on the engine to tackle rough winds and other types of harsh weather. Norwegian ship owner Eidsvik set a precedent in 2013 by installing a battery on the offshore supply ship Viking Lady, making it the first commercial offshore vessel with a fully hybrid solution. There are even plans to do the same with its sister vessel, Viking Queen.


“What they really like about the vessel (Viking Lady) is the responsiveness they get,” said Haugland. “It’s not just that the batteries reduce CO2 emissions. It also brings new characteristics. A Tesla can go from 0 to 100 (mph) in just 3.2 seconds.”


But there are challenges, both with the current low oil prices and a lack of incentives in the way contracts are structured, said Synne Opsand, managing director of the newly started Maritime Battery Forum based in Oslo, in an interview. Currently, oil companies on the Norwegian Continental Shelf pay for the fuel costs of hired offshore supply vessels, while the ship owners are responsible for any fuel saving installations, such as a battery. This provides little incentive for ship owners.


Opsand was hired from DNV GL last year to head the initiative, which now has 50 members from the public and private sector (www.maritimebatteryforum.com). The goal is to help ship owners, suppliers, and the government network about these challenges, as well as the opportunities and benefits of switching to batteries. 


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