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.

“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 and environmental accounts. However, it is a formidable job and it will not happen by itself.”

The programme emerged from collaboration between the classification and consultancy company DNV GL, the Norwegian Ministry of Climate and Environment, and the Norwegian Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries. There are currently 34 partners from the private sector and 11 observers representing the public authorities – a growth of 10 industry partners since last year.

“There is widespread acknowledgement that broad-based, effective collaboration is essential to achieving good, rapid results,” says Mjøs. “The collaboration has already borne fruit,” he adds.

Fifteen large-scale pilot projects have been launched thus far, including two to develop green ports, one to create LNG/VOC/battery-powered shuttle tankers, a hydrogen-powered speed boat, a bunkering vessel, and, finally, two autonomous, zero-emission vessels.

All of the projects are an important step in making Norwegian domestic shipping greener. Seven of the 15 pilots have been implemented or are under construction, and five were started up in 2018.

Norway has also signed agreements for 30–40 battery-powered ferries, with additional investments of roughly NOK 2 billion in battery and charging technology, and more to come. By 2021, there will be 70 all-electric and hybrid ferries in total.

Important mapping

Important mapping

The first item on the agenda of the Green Coastal Shipping Programme was to get an understanding of the situation. A comprehensive mapping study was therefore carried out.

“We saw that knowledge was lacking in many key areas, including on the significant impact of maritime activity on Norway’s climate and environmental 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.”

Piloting early on

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 autonomous zero-emission container ship.

Motivational learning

Motivational learning

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

“In addition, 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. Pilot studies quickly reveal whether there are good opportunities for saving money. This gets the ball rolling – and it rolls in a green direction,” says Mjøs.

Change is critical

Change is critical

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 10 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.

Norwegian technology at the forefront

Norwegian technology at the forefront

Norway is a leader in ships fuelled by LNG, batteries and hydrogen. Much of this development has been facilitated by the public sector, 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 sector. 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.

A good start

A good start

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 reduction obligationss, around 120 battery-powered ships should be launched this year and every following year until 2050.”

“Getting politicians to truly understand the size and 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 maritime segments.
  • International leader: Norwegian coastal shipping will be a showroom, incubator and platform for Norwegian exports of environmental technology and green transport services.

Photos from top: Egil Ulvan Rederi's LNG-electric cargo ship; programme director Narve Mjøs, Green Coastal Shipping Programme; Yara Birkeland autonomous emission-free container ship; Teekay's shuttle tankers.

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 maritime segments.
  • International leader: Norwegian coastal shipping will be a showroom, incubator and platform for Norwegian exports of environmental technology and green transport services.