Norway is looking to boost its nascent industry in electric boats and ferries after a parliamentary resolution called on the government to make its world-famous fjords into a zero-emissions control area by 2026.
The decision “can ensure our industry’s position in this area, so that Norwegian business is strengthened, jobs are created and that we can contribute to good solutions globally,” said Hege Økland, chief executive of NCE Maritime CleanTech, a cluster of 80 businesses working in green shipping solutions.
A surge in cruise holidays poses a pollution challenge to Norway’s fjords: the country that had 200,000 cruise visitors in 2000 now gets nearly 700,000 a year, a figure that’s forecast to jump to 2 million by 2060. Geirangerfjord, a UNESCO-protected site, had over 300,000 cruise passengers last year. A study conducted by the Norwegian Institute of Aeronautics in 2006 found that on days when three to five cruise ships tour an area, nitrogen dioxide levels reached 180 micrograms per cubic metre, close to the 200-microgram legal limit set by the European Union.
“For the first time in the world there is a requirement for emission-free sailing in the fjords and the ports,” said Marius Holm,leader of the environmental foundation ZERO. “Norway has long been a world leader of emission-free ferries, driven by good political decisions on zero-emission requirements. Now we take a new step within the maritime green shift that has global reverberations. Nationally, this will provide valuable development of emission-free solutions to many tourist ships, we cut out major greenhouse gas emissions, and we prevent harmful local air pollution.”
Some zero-emission boats are already sailing in Norway, such as Future of the Fjords, a 138-foot carbon fibre catamaran powered by two 450-kilowatt electric motors (operated by The Fjords) and Ampere (its operator found the ferry cut costs by 80% and emissions by 95%, and shipbuilder Fjellstrand got 53 more orders).