Hurtigruten Norway on Wednesday (June 7) unveiled plans for its first zero-emission ship.
Initially announced in March 2022, under project name “Sea Zero,” the first-of-its-kind initiative has revealed early concept plans for what is being dubbed the “world’s most energy-efficient cruise ship.”
Hurtigruten Norway presented the findings alongside its consortium of 12 maritime partners and research institute SINTEF, all joined in the pursuit of achieving emission-free marine travel.
“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,” said Hedda Felin, the CEO of Hurtigruten Norway, in a press release.
“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 groundbreaking 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."
Hurtigruten Norway is planning 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.
Hurtigruten Norway’s future ships will be electric and equipped with batteries that charge in port, for example.
Combining 60-megawatt 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 maneuvering, 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, where the Captain and crew steer the ship, is expected to reduce significantly in size following enhanced A.I. maneuvering, mimicking that of an airplane cockpit.
Hurtigruten Norway has operated along the Norwegian coast for 130 years and has superior knowledge of the 34 ports it stops at daily.
The cruise line will thus use A.I. to collect data that learns 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 1500m² (16,146 ft²) of solar panels and a total wind surface of 750m² (8,073ft²), reaching a maximum height of 50m (164 ft) when fully extended.
A streamlined shape will also result in less air resistance, reduce energy use, and increase passenger comfort, the company says.
Sea Zero has now entered a two-year phase in which the technologies will be tried, tested, and developed further.
Developing new technologies for onboard hotel operations, which can consume up to 50 per cent of the ship’s total energy use, will be crucial to the project’s success.
The goal, Hurtigruten says, is a 50 per cent energy reduction compared to Hurtigruten Norway’s current ships.
The company, meanwhile, is currently making extensive upgrades to its existing fleet.
Two of the seven ships have been upgraded to battery-hybrid-powered ships, with a third to be upgraded this fall.
The five other vessels are being outfitted with various technologies that will cut CO² emissions by 25 per cent and NOx (nitrogen oxides) by 80 per cent.
In 2019, sister company Hurtigruten Expeditions introduced the world’s first battery-hybrid-powered ship, MS Roald Amundsen; the Expeditions arm now has three battery-hybrid ships out of its seven-ship fleet.
The new zero-emission ship is modeled at 135 meters (443 feet) long, with 270 cabins that hold 500 guests and 99 crew.
Just as Hurtigruten Norway has been transporting cargo along the Norwegian coast for 130 years, the new ship will also have a significant cargo hold and transport cars.
To learn more about Sea Zero, click here.