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First environmental cluster for maritime activities

Twenty companies in southwest Norway have bonded together to form the country’s first environmental technology cluster for maritime activities. Their goal is to sharpen their competitive advantage in the wake of the increasingly stricter emission regulations to both air and sea.

Innovation Norway granted Maritime CleanTech West status as one of six new clusters under the Arena Programme in 2011. Based in Stord, the cluster comprises shipyards, ship owners, equipment producers, research institutes and maritime services stretching from Bergen in the north to Karmøy in the south.


Currently, its 20 members include Wärtsila, Fjellstrand, Apply, CMR, Mecmar, Future Operation Management, SKL, Eidsvik, Polytec, Oma Baatbyggeri, Bergen Group, Det Norske Veritas (DNV), Østenjø Rederi, Tool Tech, Kvaerner, Høgskolen Stord, Navy base Haakonsvern orlogstastjon, Servogear, Solstad Offshore, and Scanelec. The cluster also partners with Innovation Norway, the Research Council of Norway and The Industrial Development Corporation of Norway (SIVA).


One of the drivers behind starting yet another maritime-related cluster in Norway has been the strong global and national demand for environmental technology reducing harmful emissions to air and sea from maritime activities. The industry has seen both an increasing number of regulations by the IMO convention MARPOL (International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships), but also future demands by local authorities, such as the port in Bergen, where the cluster expects more environmental regulations concerning harbour traffic.


“The most important driver for our innovation activities is the expected reduced access to fossil oil products and increasing oil prices in the long run,” says Hege Økland, Maritime CleanTech West project manger.


“The number of more sensitive Emission Control Areas is growing and there will be more restrictions,” she added. “We think in the future there will also be restrictions on emissions of greenhouse gases on ships, like there is now on (oil and gas) offshore.”

Maritime environment

Focus on R&D Projects

The southwest region of Sunn-Hordaland in Norway was a natural place for the new cluster because of the area’s long-standing maritime history. But what separates the cluster from its peers is its focus on R&D projects in new technology, such as the use of batteries onboard ships, and its broad perspective. The cluster holds regular strategy meetings for its members and acts as a catalyst for starting R&D projects and helping them find funding from sources such as Innovation Norway and the Research Council’s MAROFF Programme.


“The cluster is very dedicated to connecting companies in industrial R&D projects, not just soft projects like recruiting and promoting the cluster,” says Økland. “Trying to get an overview of all the (funding) programmes is a challenge, especially for small and medium-sized companies.”


One of its most high profiled examples is the Folkefonn project, a joint demonstration of energy storage technology on a ferry in operation. Led by Wärtsilä, the project aims to electrify an existing car ferry using battery technology. The other partners are Fjellstrand, SKL Nett, Apply Oil & Gas, Mecmar, Servogear and Tide Sjø.


First Battery Driven Ferry

In addition to the cluster’s R&D projects, there are several independent projects going on in parallel that were started by its members prior to the establishment of the cluster, particularly within battery technology. Eidesvik is installing a battery pack onboard offshore support ship Viking Lady as part of the phase three of the FellowSHIP project, while Fjellstrand is about to build the country’s first battery-driven car passenger ferry.


Shipyard Fjellstrand has developed a technology suitable for ferries carrying up to 120 cars with a maximum 30-minute cross over. The battery-driven aluminium ferry will re-charge at each dock while it unloads and reloads cars, and completely re-charge overnight. By using a battery, the ferry could save 450 tonnes of diesel per year compared to conventional diesel-driven ferries carrying 75 cars, according to Nils Aadland Fjellstrand, Fjellstrand chief executive. That would mean an annual reduction of 15 tonnes of NOX emissions and 570 tonnes of CO2, as well as the removal of SOX particles.


The concept was recently awarded a preliminary contract to be part of the ferry route between Lavik and Oppedal operated by Norled (formerly Tide). When the ferry comes into operation by January 2015, it would become Norway’s first completely battery-operated car ferry newbuild.


“This can be a repeat of the success from 11 years ago with the first LNG-driven ferry Glutra,” Fjellstrand recently told Norwegian magazine Teknisk Ukeblad. “The choice of a battery ferry can be the start of a new era for an environmentally friendly maritime industry.”


More Projects in the Pipeline

In the future, the cluster has plans to expand the number of its R&D projects. It is currently in the process of seeking funding through MAROFF for a new “eco ship index,” together with several shipowners, shipyards, equipment producers and ship classification company DNV.


The new index would be similar to the current one for the car industry, which takes a holistic look at the carbon footprint of producing, operating and scrapping a vehicle. This would be the first-ever environmental footprint of a vessel, which takes into account the total lifecycle when ranking a ship, with the operation stage being the most important.


The cluster is additionally seeking funding through Innovation Norway for a new fast ferry (passenger vessels travelling more than 20 knots) using batteries. This project would focus on reducing the weight of the vessel, but would also benefit from the experience of its member Fjellstrand on battery-driven car ferries.


“Knowledge transfer between projects in parallel, that’s the advantage of being in a cluster,” says Økland.


(Top image: The FellowSHIP project is entering into a third project phase in which a battery pack is being introduced into the energy production system on board Viking Lady. Photo credit: FellowSHIP)

(Other photo: Caption: Norway’s first battery-driven car ferry newbuild is being built by Fjellstrand for Norled. Credit: Norled)

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