Norway Releases Action Plan for Green Shipping

file photo courtesy of Alan Jamieson
file photo courtesy of Alan Jamieson

Published Oct 7, 2019 8:28 PM by The Maritime Executive

Norway has released an action plan for green shipping, saying that its maritime industry is a world leader in the development of low- and zero-emission solutions.

The Government’s ambition is to reduce emissions from domestic shipping and fishing vessels by half by 2030. The report notes that with current technology, maritime transport is generally the most energy efficient mode of transport. Additionally, tire wear is the largest direct source of microplastics in Norway, and about half of all microplastics end up in the sea. If a shift in freight transport from road to sea helps to reduce the total volume of road traffic, it will be an important means of reducing the spread of microplastics.

The Government has stated that its ambition is for 30 percent of goods transported over distances of more than 300 kilometers to be transferred from road to rail and sea by 2030. According to the Norwegian Environment Agency, this could give an the accumulated reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from the transport sector of about 1.5 million tonnes CO2-eq over the period 2021–2030.

Autonomous vessels are seen as having various positive climate and environmental effects including improvements in energy efficiency and optimization of operations. The design of autonomous vessels can also be made more aero- and hydrodynamic to reduce wind and water resistance. In combination, these factors will allow autonomous vessels to be highly energy efficient and have low fuel consumption. “This will make it possible for example to electrify more ships, and they will be able to operate for longer distances using electric propulsion,” states the report.

As increasing the use of biodiesel and biogas may be an important means of achieving the aim of halving emissions from domestic shipping by 2030, the Ministry of Climate and Environment has asked the Norwegian Environment Agency, in cooperation with the Norwegian Maritime Authority, to review the possibility and consequences of introducing a biofuel quota obligation for sustainable biodiesel and biogas for shipping. 

The plan calls for different approaches for different vessel types: scheduled passenger vessels and ferries, cruise ships and international passenger ferries, cargo vessels, offshore support vessels, specialized vessels including aquaculture service vessels, fishing vessels and recreational craft. 

The rapid phase-in of ferries with electric propulsion systems has been driven by requirements included in public procurement processes combined with grants, for example from Enova and the NOx fund, for technology development and for building charging infrastructure. The Government will promote the inclusion of requirements for zero- and low-emission solutions in future procurement processes for ferries and high-speed vessels.

Offshore support vessels account for roughly 23 percent of Norway’s emissions from domestic shipping, and the Government will consider the introduction of requirements to use zero- and low-emission solutions for new offshore support vessels to encourage more rapid phase-in than is being brought about by the carbon tax and existing grant schemes.

The Government will consider whether to introduce incentives for zero- and low-emission ships in the Norwegian ship registers (NIS and NOR). This could promote the implementation of environmental measures for ships in the existing Norwegian-flagged fleet and also encourage owners to register zero- and low-emission ships in the Norwegian registers. Incentives could include better services from the Norwegian authorities and financial advantages such as lower fees.

The action plan is available here.