Sir. Skjeldam, you are considered a critic of the technology for liquefied natural gas (LNG) on cruise ships. Why?
Daniel Skjeldam: LNG is not a green technology because it produces large amounts of methane and therefore significant emissions. Although it has long been considered a green technology, it will not be the solution to emission-free marine propulsion. Many shipping companies have opted for LPG, but more for cost reasons as LNG was so much cheaper than diesel. As a result, the payback period for LNG drives was shorter than for diesel drives for many operators.
What do you think is the right way to go about green cruising – biodiesel, methanol, batteries, fuel cells?
Skjeldam: As long as there is no zero-emission drive, we believe that a combination of different technologies is the best solution. That is why we rely on more energy efficient engines and invest in biodiesel, shore power connections and batteries on our ships. We are also gradually upgrading our ships: The mail ship “MS Richard With” is currently being equipped with new engines and a hybrid drive. Our ships run on a mixture of marine diesel and biodiesel made from food waste. The combination of the more environmentally friendly fuel and the conversion will make the “MS Richard With” the most environmentally friendly ship on the Norwegian coast from the summer of 2022 – with about 25 percent lower CO2 emissions and 80 percent fewer nitrogen oxide emissions.
The cruise industry has been talking about the shift towards more sustainability for a long time, but not much has happened yet. Do you think rising energy costs will speed up the process?
Skjeldam: Rising energy prices are a challenge for the industry, which can certainly accelerate the changes. This is a good thing in the long run, but we are concerned that the high costs in the short run are more likely to lead to greater use of non-green energy. The consequences of the corona pandemic and the war in Ukraine are increasing the pressure to reduce costs. Many shipping companies are starting to make their propulsion systems more sustainable, but the development of new technologies and the rebuilding of older ships should be much faster.
The world cruise association Clia aims for the year 2050 for CO2-free sea travel. What do you think: When will the first completely emission-free ship be available?
Skjeldam: For us at Hurtigruten Group, the development of zero-emission ships is an important issue. We have joined forces with the Norwegian research institute SINTEF (note: the abbreviation means the Foundation for Industrial and Technical Research) to develop the first completely zero-emission mail ship by 2030. A CO2-free ship is no longer a vision, it has become a concrete project. The propulsion will probably be a combination of different forms of energy. We are currently in the initial phase and are gaining an overview, later we want to involve other partners who work towards the same goal.
Born in Trondheim in 1975, the Norwegian has been CEO of the Hurtigruten Group since 2012. The company, whose history dates back to 1893, is considered a pioneer in the cruise industry and pursues a consistent environmental protection and sustainability concept (www.hurtigruten.de).
Hurtigruten operates mail ships along the Norwegian coast as well as some small expedition ships. The hybrid ship “Fridtjof Nansen” was recently named the most sustainable ship in the world by the rating agency Scope ESG Analysis. Three ships in the Postschiff fleet are currently being equipped with battery packs. Angry