Norway is planning on creating the first zero-emissions zone on water. The parliament has accepted a resolution which would see emissions banned in the world heritage fjords “as soon as technically possible and no later than 2026”.
This means fjords with a world heritage designation, such as the west Norwegian Geirangerfjord or Næerøyfjord can only be crossed by electric ships as of 2026. These areas are mainly frequented by ferries and cruise ships, which produce a significant amount of pollution.
Norway has been signaling for some time that they plan to take a proactive role not only in the electrification of urban transport and traffic, but also to drastically reduce pollution in a maritime context. This can only be done with major electrification efforts. The first steps have already been taken by the ferry operator Fjord1, who runs one of the largest regional transport networks in Norway. In 2016, the company transported 10.2 million vehicles and 20.9 million passengers, according to their statements. The company already has several electrified ferries in their fleet, and has recently signed an agreement with the Havyard Group for the construction of another seven battery-electric ferries. Five of them will be built in the company-owned shipyard in Leirvík, and two more will be built in the Turkish Cemre shipyard. They will take up operation in 2020.
The battery specialists who have been focusing on making this possible include PBES Energy Storage and Siemens. The German company has invested around 100 million Norwegian Krone (about 10.5 million euro) into the production of electric batteries for ships.
Even before the introduction of the resolution, which covers a comparatively small area, the electrification of ship transport has been an increasingly important topic in Norway. Furthermore, a national research project is currently analysing the development of self-driving emission-free ships. The implementation of these plans will then be taken over by Grenland Energy, Fjellstran and Grønn Kontakt.
The drive to bring down emissions in shipping is not only present in Norway, either: At a recent meeting of the UN’s International Maritime Organization, 173 states agreed to lower CO2 emissions in shipping by 50% by 2050 compared to the 2008 figures.