Norway’s zero emission high speed ferry concepts

Five viable zero emission high speed ferries have been presented to the council of Trøndelag County in Norway in response to their 2017 competition to ‘hunt for the speedboat of the future’.

The council started the competition and tender process because the area knows it is facing what (until now) have been conflicting realities:

  • There is a great desire to increase business development along the coast of Norway, and high speed ferries will help realize that economic potential.
  • Having traditional fossil fuel ferries would be a costly way to meet demand, and the high fuel consumption would create emissions and environmental problems along the sensitive coastline.

Ferry emissions already equal 1,000 diesel buses

The problem is significant already. Trøndelag has six high speed ferries operating that together contribute emissions equal to about 1,000 buses. Similar ferries are found all along the coast, and ten other municipalities joined in as sponsors of the request for proposals, along with the Norwegian Ministry of the Environment.

schematic of a porposal tschematic drawing showing offshore wind turbines connected to undersea electrolysis and hydrogen storage unitsOne of the most intriguing concepts proposes using another innovation backed by the Norwegian government: ‘Deep Purple’ hydrogen. The Deep Purple project uses offshore wind turbines to power an undersea electrolysis system which extracts hydrogen from seawater, stores it underwater and then transports it to stations on land as needed.


“We ordered something that didn’t really exist”

The funded competition requested proposals for boats that could carry 100-250 passengers, and travel at over 30 knots (55kmh / 34mph) with zero emissions. The ferries need to service three  routes of different lengths – 16km, 53km and 175km (10, 30 and 110 miles). Some companies proposed different ferries for the different routes, and more than one proposed battery power for the shorter routes and hydrogen for the longer.

As Trøndelag county mayor Tore O. Sandvik said at the final presentations “We ordered something that didn’t really exist” He went on to express the hope of everyone involved that the “groundbreaking technology we have come to see will have a ripple effect into the international market.”

Five groups submitted extensive proposals

Seven syndicates put forth submissions initially and the list was culled to five consortia to prepare final plans, led by  five Norwegian firms:

Each of the five leaders put together their own team, with a total of 19 companies involved, some of them included in more than one proposal. The proposals needed to address financial projections and timelines for construction so that feasibility could be analyzed. Here is a very rough summation of the entries:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

A zero emission high speed ferry operating by 2022

In December the city council of Trøndelag will review all of the submissions and present a case for the ‘high speed ferry of the future’ to replace the current diesel boats when contracts expire in 2024.

One of the participating communities, Sogn og Fjordane, is already on the case though, and will announce their next steps this fall with a plan to have at least one of the boats operating – at 30 knots, with zero emissions –  by 2022.

Leave a comment

Axopar 25e Gussies Award Winner

Get all the latest electric boats and boating news delivered to your mailbox!

Sign up here for the Plugboats newsletter.