First electric cruise ship hopes to turn the tide in war against ocean pollution


Category:  News & Politics

Via:  perrie-halpern  •  9 months ago  •  15 comments

First electric cruise ship hopes to turn the tide in war against ocean pollution
“We know passengers don’t want to visit beautiful, pristine places on an operator that is not taking the nature they sail to seriously," said the cruise company's CEO.

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T

By   Harriet Baskas

When it comes to the environment and sustainability, cruise ships and many cruise ship operators   get failing grades   when it comes to controlling carbon emissions, recycling, and treating water, waste, and sewage.

But thanks to new technology and the scrutiny of passengers, government agencies, and environmental groups, the tide is beginning to turn.

Norwegian cruise operator Hurtigruten just launched the world’s first hybrid electric-powered expedition ship, the 530-passenger MS Roald Amundsen. The vessel is named for the Norwegian explorer who was the first person to navigate the Northwest Passage by boat and the first person to cross Antarctica and reach the South Pole.

191004-_battery-power-banks-al-1314_340d The MS Roald Amundsen features a hybrid operating system that uses large banks of batteries to supplement the power of the main engines, cutting CO2 emissions by 20 percent. Harriet Baskas

Hurtigruten’s sustainability policies include a ban on single-use plastics and the goal of being totally emission-free within 20 years. The Roald Amundsen moves the company towards that goal by featuring a hybrid operating system that uses large banks of batteries to supplement the power of the main engines, which run on low sulfur marine gas oil.

“Excess, unneeded energy from the engines is stored in the batteries and when the engine needs extra energy, we draw it back from the batteries and feed it into the engines,” Hurtigruten CEO Daniel Skjeldam told NBC News.

That reduces fuel usage, allows the engines to operate at their optimum levels and lowers CO2 emissions by 20 percent.

The ship also has the option to run on battery power alone for limited periods, during which time it uses no fuel and creates zero emissions.

Charging the batteries from the ship’s excess energy is essential, said Skjeldam, because there are currently no power charging stations for ships to plug into in port.

The world’s first hybrid-powered cruise ship set sail from Norway in July and is now in Vancouver, B.C. preparing for a season of expedition cruises in Antarctica. Hurtigruten will debut a second hybrid-powered ship, the MS Fridtjof Nansen, in 2020. A third, as-yet unnamed hybrid-powered ship will be delivered in 2021.

The company's next generation of hybrid ships, along with a half-dozen of its retrofitted existing ships, will run on a mixture of battery power, liquefied natural gas (LNG) and biogas made from organic waste, such as dead fish.

“Bio-gas is like a Kinder Egg of fuel; it is like those chocolate eggs with treats inside,” said Skjeldam. “Passengers on our ships will eat fish. The waste from that fish and from the fish farming industry will go into a production plant that generates gas for our ships and creates fertilizer for the agriculture industry.”

Skjeldam said that, for now, Hurtigruten’s hybrid ships and its commitment to far-reaching sustainability practices is an expensive proposition.

“We expect the technology to be cheaper in the future. But we know passengers don’t want to visit beautiful, pristine places on an operator that is not taking the nature they sail to seriously. Some cruise lines say they’re green, but passengers can tell the difference.”

The world's largest cruise company, U.S.-based cruise ship operator Carnival Corp., was in court this week to address charges that it continues to violate environmental laws by discharging plastics, food, or "gray water" into protected areas.

“Compliance, environmental protection, safety — it’s the first thing,” Arnold Donald told the court. “Without it, we don’t have a business.”

Other cruise lines say they are also taking steps to be more environmentally responsible. Norwegian Cruise Lines Partners recently announced that it is on target to reach its goal of replacing all single-use plastic bottles across its fleet by Jan. 1, 2020. Lindblad Expeditions announced its intention to become a carbon-neutral company starting this year by making investments to offset 100 percent of its emissions.

The global cruise industry is still working as a whole to meet a goal the Cruise Lines International Association announced in 2018 of reducing the rate of carbon emissions across the industry fleet by 40 percent by 2030.


jrDiscussion - desc
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Perrie Halpern R.A.
1  seeder  Perrie Halpern R.A.    9 months ago

Truly an amazing feat. Is this the shape of things to come?

Buzz of the Orient
2  Buzz of the Orient    9 months ago

I read some news that scientists are separating Hydrogen from Oxygen in water, and using the hydrogen to create power (I'm not a scientist so I'm not too sure about it) so I wonder if a ship could just use the sea water it travels through to create the power needed to run it without using other sources of power to do so (unlike the low sulphur oil that the seed ship does). If it could be done, it could run forever without anything but sea water to power it.  With enough ships doing that it would certainly slow rising sea levels.

Perrie Halpern R.A.
2.1  seeder  Perrie Halpern R.A.  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @2    9 months ago

That is a good question. I wish the article had more information on how it works.

3  Kavika     9 months ago

Kudos to Hurtigruten Lines...We need more of this type of innovation. 

Perrie Halpern R.A.
3.1  seeder  Perrie Halpern R.A.  replied to  Kavika @3    9 months ago

I totally agree

4  Gordy327    9 months ago

The boat is a Prius version of a sea vessel. Very interesting. Perhaps solar panels integrated into the top half of a hybrid ship in the future will also provide power and further reduce emissions? 

Perrie Halpern R.A.
4.1  seeder  Perrie Halpern R.A.  replied to  Gordy327 @4    9 months ago

Hey, thanks Gordy for that information. I wasn't sure the exact way it was working. I think that solar panels would be good addition for sure. 

4.1.1  sandy-2021492  replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @4.1    9 months ago

A teacher I had in elementary school went for a cruise in the mid-80s, and they were using solar panels then - not for the engines, but for things like heating water.

I don't remember seeing any solar panels on any of the cruise ships I've been on.

4.1.2  zuksam  replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @4.1    9 months ago

Most of the large Cruise Ships today are diesel electric like a train meaning they have diesel generators that power electric motors that provide propulsion which means any of these ships could add batteries and become a hybrid. I doubt the batteries add much efficiency though since everything on these ships runs on electricity it's like powering a small city and pushing it around at the same time there's not a lot of excess or wasted energy coming out of the generators and when there is it's more efficient to shut down some of the generators since charging batteries is an inefficient process. It's typical to lose 20% between what you put into a battery and what you'll get back out. The best way to increase overall efficiency is to plug the ship into the grid while it's docked so they can shut the generators down and some cruise lines do it where they can. I imagine they would need to dock to use shore to ship power so in places where they anchor in the harbor and shuttle people ashore it wouldn't be available and some places just wouldn't have the capacity in their grid to accommodate the huge load a large cruise ship would demand. As far as solar panels go the problem I see is Cruise lines main concern is passengers and fitting as many as possible while making them happy customers and that means deck space is premium space and they always want more sun drenched deck space and that leaves very little room for solar panels certainly not enough to make any difference. If they have any it's likely they have them just so they can say they have them..

4.1.3  sandy-2021492  replied to  zuksam @4.1.2    9 months ago

The ships I've been on must have shut down some engines while docked.  We were always asked not to charge cell phones, tablets, etc. while in port and to make sure our room lights were turned off.

Perrie Halpern R.A.
4.1.4  seeder  Perrie Halpern R.A.  replied to  zuksam @4.1.2    9 months ago

That is a really good idea zuk. Using ports as charging stations is really innovative! 

6  Kavika     9 months ago

The marine shipping industry has been experimenting with elec ships for awhile. The number of cargo ships in the world far exceeds the crusing industry ships.


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