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Ferry sector to be pioneer in zero emission propulsion

The ferry sector is set to be a pioneer in shipping’s quest for zero-emission propulsion driven by the demands of consumers.

Giving the keynote address at the Interferry 44th annual conference Guy Platten (pictured), secretary general of the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), said:  “You are the pioneers in the shipping industry and will light the path.  What you do now, the industry will follow.  We want to learn from you in order to take the whole industry forward.”

The world’s first zero emissions ferry, the all-electric Ampere, was launched in 2015 by Norled and will have 72 electric sister vessels by 2022. Norled presented plans for a hydrogen-powered ferry to be introduced by 2021, which business development manager Kjell Ove Hatlem described as “the next industry game-changer”.

The green shift is already there for short routes but not for longer distances.  We think liquid hydrogen from clean sources such as wind, water or solar power will be the way.”

However, it will take Norway three – four years to catch up with infrastructure for hydrogen bunkering. “It’s one of the challenges but there is a very good partnership between our government and private companies,” he stressed.  “The government has set zero emissions as the criteria and provides funding and contract incentives to help achieve it.”

Support from beyond the industry was seen as highly important in the move towards zero emissions propulsion.

ICS’ Platten said: “You can’t do it alone. Ferry operators are more exposed to public perception on emissions.  You need the support of consumers, policy makers and financiers – reaching beyond your own community to make sure of an equitable and affordable transition.”

The conference was also warned that being a first mover can have its pitfalls. Johan Rostin, ceo of Sweden’s ForSea Ferries, reflected on his company’s industry-leading switch from diesel-electric to fully electric operation saying: “To be the first mover is time consuming.  We didn’t anticipate the delays caused by lack of IMO rules on lithium batteries and the need for special crew training.”