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Norway plans for green and sound growth

In an announcement heralding the Norwegian Government’s new Maritime Strategy, Minister of Trade and Industry Dag Terje Andersen pointed towards the government’s ambitions to create “the most innovative and environmentally friendly solutions” to drive growth in the maritime cluster.’
The new document sets out the administration’s plans for maintaining Norway’s position as a world leader in maritime industries and provides a blueprint for expanding the sector through greener technology. By taking an environmentally positive stance in the new strategy, the government hopes the Norwegian maritime cluster will become a trendsetter for the global shipping industry.

Increased Funding

Research to develop cleaner shipping technology is high on the priority list. The new strategy advocates an increase of NOK 100 million in research, innovation and skill improvement for the maritime industries, with funding reaching a total NOK 252 million for 2008.
A key element of the boost in spending is a NOK 25 million grant to upgrade facilities at MARINTEK, the nation’s main oceanic research centre. In addition, Norway will continue its efforts within the International Maritime Organization to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions, and take steps to phase out use of heavy grade oil. And there will be an increase of NOK 3 million in the marketing budget of the Norwegian International Ship register.
Overall, the policy focuses on five central challenges: Globalisation and national policies; environmentally sustainable maritime industries; maritime competence; maritime research and innovation; and short sea shipping.

Norwegian companies like Wilh. Wilhemsen are equipping their fleets with environmental technology that meets or surpasses the requirements of the new Maritime Strategy.
© Will. Wilhelmsen


Strategically Green

But it is “environmentally sound growth” that drives much of the strategic thinking. The policy goal is to make Norwegian maritime industries “the world’s most environmentally friendly”, and lead in inventing new ways to deal with the challenges of emissions, ballast water and other ecological threats.
In addition to the environmental goals, the strategy aims to avoid tax competition, enhance competence, research and innovation and safeguard good working conditions. Emphasis is also placed on short sea shipping as an “environmentally friendly and competitive alternative to road transport”.

The new Maritime Strategy has its roots in the Soria Moria agreement, in which the member parties of the Norway’s coalition government agreed to make the maritime segment one of five clusters to be given particular attention. Shipping, shipyards, gear producers and service providers create a highly developed industry cluster, and the government hopes to bolster Norwegian shipping’s competitive advantages through this initiative.

Companies Ahead of the Curve

Many companies, such as Wilh. Wilhemsen, Höegh and Eidesvik, are already equipping their fleets with environmentally friendly technology that surpasses the requirements set out by the government strategy. Many do it not only because they want to contribute to a cleaner industry, but also because it is good business.
Wilh. Wilhelmsen CEO Ingar Skaug outlined his company’s philosophy on “Our clear ambition is to lie ahead of legislative and regulatory developments, and to ensure that our business pollutes less than international rules require. This is because we want to accept responsibility for our common environment while also recognizing that environment-friendly operation actually confers a competitive advantage.”
Wilhelmsen’s focus areas for 2007 include bunker-reducing measures with a goal of a 2 percent cut from 2006 levels, and exploring sulphur separation technology for land-based bunkers. Environmentally friendly changes of practice like washing of hulls below waterline and investigating ballast water treatment options are also underway.

Innovations Large and Small

Norwegian ship company Eidesvik has taken on a pioneering role by delivering, in 2003, the very first low-emission LNG-fuelled PSV, the Viking Energy, and followed that breakthrough with the 2007 scheduled delivery of another, more advanced ship of the Gass Avant type of Platform Supply Vessel, built by West Contractors yard in Ølensvåg. Both vessels boast efficient, economical and environmentally sound dual-fuelled power systems, meeting standards above those outlined in the government’s strategy.

Dual-fueled innovations like the Viking Avant from Eidesvik are part of the industry-wide movement towards more efficient, low-emission shipping.
© Eidesvik

International shipping giant Höegh has been testing environmental technology developed by Norwegian firm AutoMec AS. This fits into the company’s overall green values. “We are a shipping company with a clear environmental profile. The company’s strategy is to be open to good environmental solutions for our ships,” says Kristian Sandem of Leif Höegh in a recent interview with
AutoMec’s systems use magnet technology to achieve more efficient oil use in present-day engines, contributing to reduced fuel usage savings and therefore reduced emissions. In addition to possible shipping applications, the company says its patented magnetic system is capable of increasing the efficiency of a wide variety of industries and transport modes, such as gas power plants, asphalt works, and biodiesel vehicles.

Wide Ramifications

The new Maritime Strategy may have effects that reach well beyond Norwegian waters. In a recent press release, State Secretary Rikke Lind pointed out that the national strategy goes further into specifics than the current European regulations. “Norway has…been more concrete than the European Commission in some points.” She said that the country will be contributing more ideas to the upcoming European maritime strategy conferences in Brussels and Lisbon.
One important issue the Norwegian representatives will be championing is the drive to implement a global requirement for the use of cleaner fuel (distillates) by, at the latest, the year 2015. This one step alone could reduce damaging emissions from shipping by 12 million tons. At present, the European Commission fails to include this requirement in their maritime policy.