The Norwegian Parliament has ruled that all cruise ships and ferries operating in the country's world heritage fjords must be emission free as soon as possible, and no later than 2026. The decision has effectively created the world’s first zero emissions zone at sea.
Last month, Norwegian ferry owner and operator The Fjords took delivery of an all-electric catamaran, The Future of the Fjords, which will transport tourists across a popular fjord route in western Norway.
The ferry is the first vessel of its kind to utilize zero-emission battery propulsion technology, though it can’t claim the title of ‘Norway’s first electric ferry’. This is held by Ampere, a car carrier that operates on the Sognefjord, a major route for north-south transportation in the country.
The new ruling will mean that other operators will have to outfit their vessels with similar battery technologies, and ports will have to install charging infrastructure. Hydrogen propulsion could also be possible in the future, though the necessary technologies are still in development.
“Norway has long been a world leader in emission-free ferries based on sound political decisions on zero-emission requirements,” says Marius Holm, head of the environmental foundation ZERO. “Now the country is taking a step further in the maritime green shift, with global repercussions.
“At the national level, this will mean a welcome development towards emission-free solutions on many tourist ships, a significant decrease in greenhouse gas emissions and a halt to harmful local air pollution.”
The country’s shipping industry has also expressed enthusiasm for the zero-emissions ruling, and hopes it will consolidate its position as a pioneer in green maritime technology.
“The decision on zero-emission fjords can secure our industry’s position in this area, so that Norwegian business will be strengthened and we can provide good solutions also to the rest of the world,” says Hege Økland, CEO of the maritime industrial cluster NCE Maritime CleanTech.