The Norwegians have come up with a fin-tastic way of powering a cruise vessel while ensuring fewer emissions into the atmosphere. But before people start clapping at this savvy initiative, they better get a nose clasp first.
The Hurtigruten line that takes tourists on an aquatic circuit around the nation's fjord-laden coast announced in mid-November it will spend some $826 million into retrofitting its fleet of 17 ships to be powered by liquefied biogas derived from rotten fish. Special engines designed to use this new fuel will also be developed.
Six older ships that can't be completely converted to this new organic energy source will still be equipped with propulsion infrastructure to use the unique fuel. However, those same boats will also rely on liquified natural gas and electricity to become fully operational.
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Three additional vessels will be electric-powered, with diesel as additional backup. One of them, the MS Roald Amundsen, is slated to launch in 2019 and will become the first electric-powered hybrid cruise vessel with engines that produce next to no noise, designed to avoid disturbing marine wildlife. The other two will likely begin operating in 2021. The total price tag for creating the battery-powered hybrids will be more than $500 million.
The cruise line claims its internal policy is to operate at carbon neutral levels by 2050, although the current retrofitting initiatives are also in response to more rigid regulations affecting marine vessels around the world. Stipulations include carbon dioxide emissions to be cut in half as well as eliminating energy sources that contain more than 0.5 percent of sulfur by 2050.
As for obtaining the new biogas fuel, recognized as one of the greenest sources of energy ever created in a lab, it wasn't hard for the cruise line. Norway's fisheries industry produces a great deal of organic waste, which is already being used to power buses in the country. It made sense to Hurtigruten to extend those possibilities towards propelling its marine fleet.
Hurtigruten, which also takes passengers on cruises to Greenland and even Antarctica, claims it eventually wants all of its ships to run without creating any emissions at all. That will be a tall order for the cruise line to reach its 30-year goals, claims the World Wildlife Federation, which states that international shipping creates twice as many harmful emissions as the entire U.K.