A few weeks before its 130thanniversary, Hurtigruten Norway has revealed plans for its first zero-emission ship.
Initially announced in March, 2022, under project name ‘Sea Zero,’ the company gave details of its early concept plans for what is claimed to be the world’s most energy-efficient cruise ship.
Hurtigruten Norway presented the design alongside the consortium of 12 maritime partners and research institute SINTEF at Nor-Shippin, following the first year of research.
“When we initially announced the ‘Sea Zero’ project over a year ago, we were faced with the challenge of not knowing which technologies would be available to us in 2030. Our task was to pave the way for new innovations and enhance existing ones to align with our sustainability objectives.
“While some of these technologies have reached a relatively advanced stage, they still necessitate dedicated research and development to ensure successful implementation within the maritime context. On the other hand, certain technologies are still in early development and require fundamental research and thorough testing.
“Following a rigorous feasibility study, we have pinpointed the most promising technologies for our ground breaking future cruise ships. We are committed to delivering a ship that surpasses all others in terms of energy efficiency and sustainability within just a few years,” said Hedda Felin, Hurtigruten Norway CEO.
In line with its focus on sustainable operations tailored to the Norwegian coast, Hurtigruten Norway aims for smaller, custom-built ships that leave a positive footprint with zero emissions to both sea and land. With the first ship ready in 2030, the company plans to transform its entire fleet into zero-emission vessels.
Since only 0.1% of ships worldwide currently use zero-emission technology, Hurtigruten’s project is forecast to drastically improve the greater cruise industry’s sustainability record and future of travel, the company said.
Future ships will be electric and equipped with batteries that recharge in port. Combining 60 MWh battery solutions with wind technology, the vessel is expected to feature numerous firsts and improved solutions that do not exist on cruise ships today, including retractable sails with solar panels, artificial intelligence (AI) manoeuvring, contra-rotating propellers, and multiple retractable thrusters.
Additional technologies include air lubrication, advanced hull coating, and proactive hull cleaning.
Battery levels will be displayed on the ship’s external sides, while the bridge is expected to reduce significantly in size following enhanced AI manoeuvring, similar to an aeroplane’s cockpit.
Hurtigruten has operated along the Norwegian coast for 130 years and has expert knowledge of the 34 ports the vessels call at daily. Thus AI will be used to collect data to learn the most efficient docking and undocking methods for each port, improving in-port operations in bad or challenging weather.
The three retractable, autonomous wing rigs will comprise 1,500 sq m of solar panels and a total wind surface of 750 sq m, reaching a maximum height of 50 m when fully extended.
A streamlined shape will also result in less air resistance, reduced energy use, and increased passenger comfort. In addition to ample outdoor space, enlarged surface areas with dedicated windows will allow for views of what is often described as ‘the world’s most beautiful coastline’.
“We are developing the concept for a very innovative cruise design and researching to find the optimal design methods suitable for zero-emission ships. The streamlined shape, with its innovative hull and propulsion solutions, not only reduces energy demand but also increases passenger comfort. In the process, we are developing new design tools and exploring new technologies for energy efficiency,” said Henrik Burvang, Research and Innovation Manager at VARD, the design and shipbuilding company behind the concept visuals.
Guests will also play a key role in minimising energy consumption through an interactive mobile app, where they can operate cabin ventilation, as well as measure their own water and energy consumption.
‘Sea Zero’ has now entered a two-year phase in which the proposed technologies will be tried, tested, and developed further in pursuit of the final zero-emission ship.
The current R&D phase focuses on battery production, propulsion technology, hull design, and sustainable practices that reduce energy use to an absolute minimum. Developing new technologies for on board hotel operations, which can consume up to 50% of the ship’s total energy use, will be crucial to the project’s success. The goal is to gain a 50% energy reduction compared to Hurtigruten Norway’s current ships.
Hurtigruten is also currently undertaking one of the most extensive environmental upgrades in European maritime history involving its existing fleet. Two of the seven ships have been upgraded to battery-hybrid-powered ships, with a third due to be upgraded this Autumn.
The five other vessels are being retrofitted with various technologies that will cut CO² emissions by 25% and NOx by 80%. In 2019, sister company Hurtigruten Expeditions introduced the world’s first battery-hybrid-powered ship, ‘Roald Amundsen’. This company now has three battery-hybrid ships out of its seven-ship fleet.
The new zero-emission ship is designed to be 135 m long, with 270 cabins to accommodate 500 guests and 99 crew. The new ship will also have a large cargo hold and will be able to transport cars.