Good news on sea-based air pollution comes in waves, it seems.
Out of BreatheLife city Oslo came the announcement that Norway’s iconic, UNESCO heritage fjords will be a zero emissions zone in eight years’ time.
Just three weeks after the International Maritime Organization announced that it would halve carbon dioxide emissions (based on 2008 levels) from international shipping by 2050, the Norwegian Parliament declared that only electric ferries and ships would be allowed to ply this major world tourist attraction by 2026.
The announcement also comes two years after the Ampere, the first all-electric ferry in Norway, began moving cars across the 5.6 kilometre, 20-minute fjord crossing between the villages of Lavik and Oppedal.
The Ampere was the result of a competition launched by the Norwegian government to develop an environment friendly service linking the two villages, which was won by a partnership of shipping company Norled AS, ferry operator, Fjellstrand Shipyard, Siemens AS and Corvus Energy.
The ferry operators claimed that the electric ferry cut emission by 95 per cent and costs by 80 per cent compared to comparable fuel-powered ferries.
Calls for a cleaner fjord fleet
According to Business Insider, calls to electrify the fleet going through the fjords each year began after a 2006 study surfaced that found that on days when three to five cruise ships visited the Geirangerfjord, the concentrations of nitrogen dioxide there was on par with cities like London, Barcelona or Oslo.
It was conducted by the Norwegian Institute of Aeronautics on behalf of Aftenposten, a newspaper.
Since then, as Norway has grown as a tourist destination of choice, the number of visitors by cruise ship in the country has climbed from 200,000 in 2000 to almost 700,000 in 2015.
Interest in electrified shipping growing
Interest in electric ships is also growing, with one Norwegian shipbuilder even telling Bloomberg that this shift has revived its business as it works to fill orders for a fleet of new electric ferries.
Europe is currently driving most of the demand, but in November 2017, China launched the first electrified cargo ship, powered by batteries that take two hours to charge and can take the 2,000-metric-tonne ship 80 kilometres (about 50 miles) along the Pearl River.
More electrified big ships are hot on its propellors: by August 2018, five of the world’s first electric container barges will sail from European ports.
Capable of carrying 24 20-foot containers weighing up to 425 tonnes, the Dutch-manufactured ships will be driven by a power box giving them 15 hours of power.
Meanwhile, in Sweden, two massive ferries are being converted from being diesel engine driven to being entirely battery-powered, likely making them the biggest all-electric ships in the world.
“Ferries are a perfect place to start since they often travel only short distances and stay for relatively long periods of time at the same ports, where they can be charged,” writes Fred Lambert of Electrek, a news site reporting on the transition of transportation from fossil fuel to electric.