The Norwegian parliament has decreed that the country’s UNESCO-protected fjords shall be free from cruise and ferry emissions no later than 2026, DNV GL said.
Although these represent ambitious goals, State Secretary Atle Hamar in the Ministry of Climate and Environment believes that the goal is realistic “using a combination of effective legislation and the most advanced hybrid and battery technology available today, and technologies that will emerge”.
The new law regarding the world heritage fjords is currently under extended review, with approval expected in early 2019. The measures cover emissions to air, discharge of grey and black water, and visible exhaust from the funnel.
The most recent amendments to the regulations also ban the use of scrubbers for removing SOx and NOx from emissions.
“For those not running on clean energy like batteries or hydrogen, this will mean a shift to low-sulphur fuel, use of catalytic converters, or other alternatives,” Hamar explained.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated the Geiranger and Nærøy fjords on Norway’s west coast as World Heritage Sites in 2005. The intention of the designation is to ensure the protection, conservation, presentation and transfer to future generations of the culture and natural heritage in the unique fjord environment. Tourism is already well developed in these sensitive fjords, and a 40 percent increase in tourist traffic has been projected by 2030.
“Growth at this level will be unsustainable unless we find new ways to manage tourism in the heritage fjords. The tourism industry will have to take a role in the clean-up, and the government’s assignment is to implement rules and regulations that place responsibility where it belongs,” Hamar added.
In addition to protecting the environment and preserving the natural integrity of the heritage fjords, a key goal with the regulations is to reduce health risks for area residents. A central measure will be to install shore power for all ships to reduce emissions while in port, including supplying adequate power where grids do not have the necessary capacity.
One answer to this challenge is the power dock energy storage concept already in place in Gudvangen in Nærøyfjord, allowing charging over longer periods of time and supplying power as needed to the vessels.
“We are also encouraging the use of local regulations in ports to bring about change. Fees and charges can be adjusted to encourage greener practices in ports, finance sustainable solutions on shore, and reward cleaner ships. Owners must be convinced to build sustainable ships and phase out those most harmful to the environment,” Hamar emphasized.
Establishing hubs further out in the fjords and shuttling passengers into the protected areas is another option under consideration, according to DNV GL.
Hamar noted that the emission-free battery technology that might one day power shuttle craft is already in place on the hybrid Vision of the Fjords and the all-electric Future of the Fjords, both operating in Nærøyfjord.