Europe Takes First Steps in Electrifying World’s Shipping Fleets: Container ships, tankers, and cruise ships are a significant source of CO2 emissions and other pollutants.
ince early 2015, a mid-sized car ferry, the MS Ampere, has been traversing the Sognefjord in western Norway from early morning to evening, seven days a week — without a whiff of smokestack exhaust or a decibel of engine roar. The 260-foot Ampere, which carries 120 cars and 360 passengers, is the one of world’s first modern, electric-powered commercial ships, with battery and motor technology almost identical to today’s plug-in electric cars, only on a much larger scale.
Norway’s long and jagged Atlantic coastline — with thousands of islands and deep inland fjords — made the Norwegians a seafaring people long ago, and even today ferry travel is the fastest way to reach many destinations. Given this geography and the country’s abundant hydroelectric resources, it’s hardly surprising that the Norwegians have plunged ahead in the development of electric shipping, beginning with light, short-range ferries.
Currently, Norway has just two fully operational electric-powered ferries. But another 10 will be christened this year, 60 by 2021, and by 2023 the country’s entire ferry fleet will either be all-electric or, for the longer routes, equipped with hybrid technology, experts say. Moreover, Norway’s top cruise ship operator will soon launch two expedition cruise liners with hybrid propulsion that are designed to sail the Arctic. Several Norwegian companies have teamed up to construct a coastal, all-electric container ship that could eliminate 40,000 diesel truck trips annually. Eidesvik Offshore, a firm supplying offshore oil rigs, has converted a supply vessel to operate on batteries, diesel, and liquefied natural gas.
“Countries with huge fleets are obstructing changes that would drive forward the electrification of marine transport,” says one expert.
Yet many analysts say that even though the technology to power large, ocean-going vessels on electricity is not yet ripe, the shipping industry’s conservative mindset is also a major impediment to the sector’s transformation.
“The industry doesn’t really believe that a switch from bunker fuels is possible,” says Faig Abbasov, a shipping expert with Transport & Environment — a Brussels-based international environmental organization — referring to the fuel oils used to power ships.
“And it’s countries with huge fleets that are obstructing changes that would drive forward the electrification of marine transport.”
SOURCE: YALE Environment360
Show Archive »