Norway’s Hurtigruten is the world’s biggest expedition cruise operator to destinations including Antarctica, Svalbard and Greenland. It is best known for the ships that ferry tourists along the country’s fjords and coastline and up into the Arctic. Recently it has announced that it seeks to reduce its pollution and climate change impact by becoming a green cruise company. This is wonderful given the vulnerable eco-systems its ships sail through.
“Leftover dead fish from Norway’s large fishing industry will be mixed with other organic waste to make a liquified biogas to be used instead of heavy fuel oil.” – Hurtigruten
This Nordic region’s most high-profile, 125-year-old cruise fleet operator is refitting its ships to make them less polluting. Norway has large fishing and forestry industries which produce vast amounts of organic waste. They are already making use of the resource with their public buses running on biogas.
Hurtigruten intends to use this byproduct of rotten fish – a mixture of biogas (produced fish-processing scraps), liquified natural gas and battery electric power – to help power their new, cleaner engines. They have also ordered three new ships that will run on electricity, with a diesel engine only as back-up. Furthermore, they are banning single-use plastic on their ships.
“Our crews have seen glaciers retreat and plastic waste on beaches where they land.” – Hurtigruten
The company has already invested 7 billion crowns (£642 million, $826 million) over three years to adapt its 17-strong fleet. They plan to be running at least six of its ships on dead fish by 2021. “By introducing biogas as fuel for cruise ships, Hurtigruten will be the first cruise company to power ships with fossil-free fuel,” says the company’s chief executive Daniel Skjeldam. Hurtigruten ultimately wants to be completely carbon neutral by 2050.
“A midsize cruise ship can use well over 100 tons of fuel a day, producing as much particulate as a million cars.” – Nature And Biodiversity Conservation Union (NABU), German environmental association
The shipping sector is facing tougher international regulations every year. That includes cuts in CO2 emissions by at least 50 per cent by 2050 (compared with 2008 levels) and a ban on fuels with sulphur content above 0.5 per cent from 2020 (against 3.5 per cent now). Norway has a “zero emission” target for cruise ships and ferries navigating its fjords (which is listed as world heritage sites by Unesco) by 2026 at the latest. But with Hurtigruten’s above and beyond goals they won’t have to worry about any of this.
This is all very exciting because it is something deemed almost impossible just a few years back. “Biogas is the greenest fuel in shipping and will be a huge advantage for the environment. We would love other cruise companies to follow,” Skjeldam said.