Movers & Shakers: Hege Økland on sustainable trends in the maritime sector

September 12, 2018
By The Explorer
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NCE Maritime CleanTech is a world-leading cluster for maritime solutions. It has over 80 participants from every segment of the chain, including design, equipment, shipbuilding, shipping, classification, education and research.

Together, the partners develop new, energy-efficient and environment-friendly technologies for the international maritime industry.

The Explorer spoke to the cluster’s CEO, Hege Økland.

A large-scale electrification of coastal transport is underway, particularly ferries and offshore vessels. This will be critical to Norway achieving its target of a 40 per cent overall cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. The electrification is also a response to more stringent requirements in public procurement tenders. Requirements for energy efficiency and emissions are now weighted in tenders for ferries. As a result, there will be 60 electric ferries in operation in Norway by 2021.

Meanwhile, we are also seeing larger offshore vessels using batteries as extra energy storage for energy-intensive operations. This enables personnel to keep the rpm of engines more stable, thereby reducing fuel consumption. There have also been advances in plug-in hybrid vessels, which can charge their batteries in port and via generators on board. Thus they can sail out of ports and heavily populated areas on emission-free electric engines, before switching over to diesel engines.

In addition, there is growing interest in hydrogen, which can be used to fuel energy-intensive, zero-emission vessels such as cruise ships, high-speed vessels and other large vessels covering long distances.

Alongside technological developments in electrification, the regulatory framework is becoming stricter. The International Maritime Organization recently approved a target for cutting the shipping sector’s emissions by 50 per cent by 2050, compared with 2008 levels. Given an average vessel lifetime of 25–30 years, this will very soon have an impact on the industry. Therefore, when designing a ship today, you must take into account that emissions regulations will become considerably stricter during the ship’s lifetime and that a new energy mix will be available.

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Which sustainable solution would you like to see in 10 years’ time? 

We know that first and foremost it is a vessel’s speed that determines how much energy it consumes – and how much emissions it releases. By giving larger container ships a slot time in ports, like they do for airplanes at airports, both the route and the speed can be planned around the arrival time. Outside many of the world’s largest ports, ships have to wait before they can be unloaded and reloaded. Smart digital systems that improve planning will help ships to reduce their speed and avoid waiting in port. New digital opportunities will also help to make shipping greener.

Larger vessels will be more environment-friendly if they are able to recharge or bunker renewable energy out at sea. Such “power hubs” at sea are an exciting development – and combined with digital technologies that reduce energy needs – we can achieve sizeable cuts in shipping emissions.

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What are your ambitions for The Explorer? How can it be used to boost Norwegian exports? 

Reducing emissions is a global priority. Norway has been a frontrunner in introducing green technology in the shipping sector, and the rest of the world is now following our lead. This opens up major opportunities for Norwegian industry. The Explorer can be an important showroom for Norwegian companies with technologies that can help to solve pressing challenges. The Explorer will be an important marketing tool for small and medium-sized enterprises in particular.

However, to attract potential customers active steps must be taken to ensure adequate traffic to The Explorer. Companies can use The Explorer as part of their marketing mix – while using outreach sales and participation in key meeting places to foster relationships between customers and suppliers.