Hurtigruten, the Norwegian coastal voyager and expedition operator, recently launched plans for two new expedition vessels specially customized for Arctic waters and built with hybrid technology.
“It is beyond doubt that the future of shipping is both silent and emission-free. We will use our new expedition ships as ‘icebreakers’ for this technology and show the world that hybrid operations on large ships are already possible now,” says Hurtigruten CEO Daniel Skjeldam.
Hurtigruten has said its goal is to sail the first all-electric expedition ships in the Arctic and Antarctic. The two new vessels to be built at Norwegian Kleven shipyard are the first ships in the world with true hybrid propulsion, according to Hurtigruten.
The contract for the two new vessels is the largest single investment ever made by Hurtigruten. The contract with Kleven shipyard also includes an option for two additional vessels, for a total of four ships.
The technology powering the new ships will be developed in two phases. The first vessel that Hurtigruten aims to launch in 2018 will be equipped with an electrical auxiliary engine, which will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 20 percent.
The second ship will be equipped with a hybrid engine that can propel the ship in a fully electric mode over longer distances in fjords, harbors or other vulnerable natural areas where one would want to leave as little an environmental footprint as possible.
“Being able to sail on electricity is not only a great benefit to the environment. It will also make a nature experience for guests stronger. Just imagine sailing in Trollfjorden in complete silence and without any emissions,” says Skjeldam.
In this first phase, the new hybrid technology makes it possible to sail in full electric mode for 15-30 minutes. A new hull design and integrated energy efficiency will lower fuel consumption and reduce carbon dioxide emissions from the ship by 20 percent (slightly more than 3,000 tons of carbon dioxide each year).
There is currently no technology that makes it possible to operate a Hurtigruten ship solely on electric power.
Besides the obvious environmental benefits, the company will also save fuel costs with the new technology developed by Rolls Royce.
Norwegian environmental NGO Bellona has been involved in developing the project, and its founder Frederic Hauge calls the announcement a milestone and historical day for Norwegian maritime technology.
“This shows us that battery operations in such large ships are here to stay,” he says.
However, such cutting-edge technology is expensive. According to Hurtigruten’s Skjeldam, this investment would not be possible without the economic support from Enova. The company has invested 45.1 million Norwegian kroner ($5.48 million), which is roughly a third of the project’s total cost.
- The two new vessels are to be built with ice-strengthened hulls.
- Delivery dates for the two ships are July 2018 and July 2019.
- The vessels are designed specially for expeditions in polar waters.
- Each ship has a capacity of 530 passengers.
- The ships are 140m (460ft) long with a draft of 5.3m (17.4ft) into the sea.
- The new technology will in total reduce emissions from the two ships by 6,400 tons of carbon dioxide annually, compared to similar vessels, equivalent to the annual carbon emissions from 5,540 new cars.