Green Coastal Shipping Programme: Creating the world’s most environment-friendly coastal fleet

Published September 06, 2018

The Norwegian Government has committed itself to reducing emissions of greenhouse gases by 40 per cent by 2030. To achieve this target, most of the reductions will have to be domestic.

“This target can only be met if Norway’s domestic shipping industry takes its share of the cuts,” says Narve Mjøs, director of the Green Coastal Shipping Programme.

The programme is the result of a public-private partnership, and was established with the aim of revolutionising the way coastal shipping operates.

“Emissions reduction in Norwegian domestic shipping can have a major impact on Norway’s climate accounts. However, it is a formidable job and it won’t do itself.”

The programme emerged from collaboration between the consultancy company and classification agency DNV GL, the Ministry of Climate and Environment, and the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries. There are currently 35 partners from the private sector and 11 observers representing the public authorities.

“There is widespread acknowledgement – both within the industry itself and within the Government, as well as between the private and public sectors – that broad-based, effective collaboration is essential to achieving good, rapid results,” says Mjøs. “The collaboration has already borne fruit,” he adds.

Several large-scale pilot projects have been launched thus far, including one to develop a green port and one to create shuttle tankers that use their own emissions as fuel. All of the projects are an important step in the greening of Norwegian domestic shipping.

Norway has also signed agreements for 30–40 battery-powered ferries, with additional investments of roughly NOK 2 billion in battery and charging technology.

The first item on the agenda of the Green Coastal Shipping Programme was to get a lay of the land. A comprehensive mapping study was therefore carried out.

“We saw that knowledge was lacking in many key areas, including on the significant impact of the maritime industry on Norway’s climate accounts. We didn’t have reliable figures. Now we know that 9 per cent of Norway’s carbon dioxide emissions come from domestic shipping, which also accounts for 34 per cent of nitrogen oxide emissions and 25 per cent of sulphur oxide emissions,” explains Mjøs.

Having these concrete – and high – figures on the table has made further collaboration much easier.

“To get a strategy up and running – regardless of what it’s for – you must have a fact base. Weakly founded opinions won’t get you anywhere. With figures like these, it is much quicker and easier to get everyone to agree that it is important to develop new, green solutions.”

Mjøs emphasises the importance of having an entire industry unified behind a single message.

“It makes politicians listen, and then they can help to create early markets for use of green technologies. This becomes even easier when studies clearly show how great an economic impact such solutions can have.”

But which green solutions should be prioritised? To avoid getting bogged down in a myriad of ideas, the Green Coastal Shipping Programme has attached importance to implementing concrete concepts as soon as possible in the form of pilot projects.

“Piloting is vital and an effective way to learn. Instead of using what seems like an endless amount of time doing studies on different solutions, we can launch a project relatively quickly. This yields rapid learning and immediate results,” says Mjøs.

He points to Silicon Valley and adds, “Just look at how the modern IT industry does it: new solutions are implemented by customers relatively quickly and further developed from there.”

Read more about Yara Birkeland, which will be the world’s first zero-emission autonomous container ship.

According to Mjøs, the establishment of green pilots has been very motivating for politicians, the Government and the industry alike.

“Pilots attract a lot of press coverage, both nationally and internationally. Therefore we agreed early on that we should focus on launching pilot projects in areas where they were feasible and the potential impact was great.”

It soon became clear that the pilot projects were valuable – not least financially.

“Many shipping companies are very good at daily calculations. However, they can’t always look up from their books and see whether it may be profitable to do things differently in the future. Pilots quickly reveal whether there are good opportunities for saving money. This gets the ball rolling – and it rolls in a green direction,” says Mjøs.

An important reason that the entire industry is now collaborating on developing green solutions is the general acknowledgement that they will ultimately have no alternative.

“They can see the direction developments are going and acknowledge that they have to do something now. If they don’t, they may end up with stranded assets in a few years, given that today’s ships have a typical lifetime of 20 to 40 years,” he says.

Meanwhile, climate and environmental awareness is growing, and everything points to coastal traffic regulations becoming more stringent – and greener.

“If they don’t take concrete action today, they may face substantial climate and environmental costs in the future due to regulations and fees. They can’t be sure that they will able to get freight or good freight rates for their ships. The value of their ships will drop dramatically – just like it did for diesel cars in Norway. It’s better to lead the field than lag behind,” he explains.

The Norwegian Shipowners’ Association, Mjøs points out, has therefore had a zero-emission strategy in place for many years.

“No other shipowners’ association in the world has had such a proactive climate and environmental strategy. The Norwegian maritime industry as a whole is very forward-thinking and proactive. It is ready and confident enough to take on a global leadership role.”

Read more about Teekay's pioneering shuttle tankers, which will capture their VOC emissions and use them as fuel.

Norway is a leader in ships fuelled by LNG, batteries and hydrogen. Much of this development has been facilitated, according to Mjøs. He gives an example:

“The Norwegian Public Roads Administration has facilitated critical technology development through development contracts. Together with the counties, the agency has also created an early market for use of green technology, which in turn is an excellent springboard for national and international activities and exports. The maritime industry is by far the most international industry – and has been since the time of the Vikings. It is important for Norway to focus on the products and services in which we excel.”

He continues: “Norway already has a strong brand in the maritime field. The technologies we develop at home, in the Norwegian shipping industry, have tremendous potential, and will be used in ships all over the world. We have extensive expertise throughout the entire value chain. We are also known for our environmental efforts.”

Read more about Egil Ulvan Rederi's new LNG-electric cargo ship, which will use innovative methods to cut emissions.

The Green Coastal Shipping Programme has already yielded valuable results. Nevertheless, this is just the start of what Mjøs calls a long and tough journey.

“The programme did an early study to identify obstacles and solutions to effectively implementing the green transition in the ferry sector. We are therefore very proud that Norwegian companies will be launching some 30 battery-powered ships in the course of 2018. But if Norway is to be on the right curve to achieve its emissions reductions, around 120 battery-powered ships should have been launched this year.”

“Getting politicians to truly understand the scope of the challenge is a major problem. We must simply continue to gather the right information and remain a unified industry. Meanwhile, one of the most widely repeated messages these days is that the new climate and environmental regulations also represent the world’s most promising business opportunities. Competition to win market shares for excellent solutions will only get tougher in the years to come,” concludes Mjøs.

The Green Coastal Shipping Programme is working to achieve the following objectives:

  • Profitable emissions reductions: There is significant scalability potential thanks to the strong international position of the Norwegian maritime industry.
  • Green jobs: The maritime industry will be an important green growth industry, creating thousands of new jobs.
  • Increased competitiveness: Norway will be one of the first countries to implement successful demonstration projects in a number of industry segments.
  • International leader: The Norwegian coastal shipping industry will be a showroom, incubator and platform for Norwegian exports of environmental technology and green transport services.

The Green Coastal Shipping Programme is working to achieve the following objectives:

  • Profitable emissions reductions: There is significant scalability potential thanks to the strong international position of the Norwegian maritime industry.
  • Green jobs: The maritime industry will be an important green growth industry, creating thousands of new jobs.
  • Increased competitiveness: Norway will be one of the first countries to implement successful demonstration projects in a number of industry segments.
  • International leader: The Norwegian coastal shipping industry will be a showroom, incubator and platform for Norwegian exports of environmental technology and green transport services.