Plans Unveiled for Launching Giant Solar-Powered Electric Ship in 2030

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Hurtigruten Norway, the cruise company, has revealed its plans to build an emission-free electric cruise ship equipped with retractable sails covered in solar panels. The ship is set to sail in 2030.

The electric ship fleets

The company currently owns a fleet of eight electric ships, each accommodating 500 passengers. The electric ship and the 7 others sail along the Norwegian coastline from Oslo to the Arctic Circle. Despite being a relatively small company, CEO Hilda Vilen hopes that this innovation can “inspire the entire maritime industry.” The project, called “Sea Zero,” was initially announced in March 2022.

An imaginative rendering of the new design of electric ship
An imaginative rendering of the new design of electric ship
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Since then, Hurtigruten Norway, along with its 12 industry partners and the Norwegian research institute SINTEF, has been exploring technological solutions to achieve emission-free sea travel. The design will operate with 60 megawatts of batteries that can be charged with clean energy at ports, as renewable sources account for 98% of Norway’s electricity system. To reduce reliance on batteries, three retractable sails (reaching a maximum height of 50 meters) will be raised on the ship’s surface during stormy weather to harness the maximum wind power.

The sails will be covered with a total area of up to 1,500 square meters of solar panels, generating power to charge the batteries while sailing, according to Jerry Larsen-Ved, the Senior Vice President of Maritime Operations at Hurtigruten Norway. The ship will accommodate 500 guests in 270 cabins and have a crew of 99 members. Its streamlined shape will reduce air resistance, helping to optimize energy usage. Onboard, guests will be encouraged to reduce their climate impact through an interactive mobile application that monitors their personal water and energy consumption.

The company currently owns a fleet of eight ships. - electric ship
The company currently owns a fleet of eight ships. – electric ship

Creating a More Sustainable Shipping Sector – electric ship

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The shipping industry accounts for approximately 3% of global human-caused greenhouse gas emissions, according to the International Maritime Organization (IMO), a specialized agency of the United Nations regulating global shipping. In 2018, the IMO set a target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least half by 2050.

This has led to a wave of environmentally friendly ship designs. Hurtigruten Norway has long advocated for sustainable shipping. In 2019, the company launched the world’s first hybrid-powered expedition cruise ship and is in the process of converting the rest of its expedition fleet to operate on hybrid battery power.

The company made other efforts to reduce it.
The company made other efforts to reduce it.

Vilen stated, “We want to make an effort and become pioneers in sustainability because we believe that our industry is too slow and not ambitious enough.” Over the next two years, Hurtigruten Norway will test its proposed technologies before finalizing the design in 2026. The company aims to commence production in shipbuilding yards by 2027.

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Electric cargo ships

Electric cargo ships, also known as electrically propelled cargo vessels, are ships that use electric power as their primary source of propulsion instead of traditional fossil fuel-based engines. These ships are designed to transport goods across bodies of water while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and minimizing the environmental impact associated with maritime transportation.

Electric cargo ships typically use electric motors powered by batteries or a combination of batteries and other energy sources, such as fuel cells or shore-based power systems. The energy stored in the batteries is used to drive the ship’s propellers, providing the necessary thrust for propulsion.

Advantages of Electric Cargo Ships:electric ship

Environmental Benefits: Electric ship which work in cargo significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions compared to conventional cargo vessels that rely on diesel or heavy fuel oil.

This helps to mitigate climate change and improve air quality in port areas and along shipping routes.

Noise Reduction: Electric propulsion systems are quieter compared to traditional engines, resulting in reduced noise pollution in marine environments.

Operational Efficiency: Electric cargo ships can potentially have higher efficiency levels compared to conventional vessels, leading to lower operational costs.

Renewable Energy Integration: Electric ships can be charged using electricity generated from renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, or hydroelectric power, further reducing their carbon footprint.

Potential for Energy Recovery: Electric propulsion systems enable the possibility of regenerative braking, where the ship’s kinetic energy can be converted back into electrical energy and stored in the batteries during deceleration or when going downhill.

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