Hurtigruten to fuel cruise ships with fish waste

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Norwegian cruise ship firm Hurtigruten has launched a new green initiative which will see its fleet powered by reconstituted waste fish parts.

By 2021 Hurtigruten plans to have converted at least six of its 17 cruise liners to run on large battery packs which store renewable energy, liquefied natural gas – the least polluting of the fossil fuels – and biogas derived from the waste parts of fish which have been processed for food, mixed with other organic waste.

Biogas can be extracted from most organic waste by artificially accelerating the process of decomposition and harnessing the resulting methane emissions. A number of shipping firms have experimented with large battery packs as a fuel source; the packs are environmentally sustainable, but firms have previously had issues building battery packs large enough to run a full cruise liner. Advances in battery technology mean this is unlikely to be a problem for Hurtigruten’s planned liner conversions.

Hurtigruten chief executive Daniel Skjeldam said: “Norway is a large shipping nation, but fishery and forestry are also large sectors. They create jobs and produce income, but they also produce a lot of waste products. The steady access to high volumes of organic waste gives the Nordic countries a unique position on the biogas market. We are pushing for more innovation, more investment. I believe we have just seen the beginning of what in a few years will be a huge sector.”

The use of heavy fossil fuels in the shipping industry has come under close scrutiny for their high rate of greenhouse gas emissions, causing both marine and air pollution. Shipping is responsible for 13 per cent of the world’s sulphur oxide emissions and 15 per cent of global emissions of nitrogen oxide. The announcement from Hurtigruten comes in the wake of a deadline imposed by the International Maritime Organisation on shipping companies to lower the sulphur content of their fuels to 0.5 per cent by 2020, rather than the 3.5 per cent currently present in most commonly used shipping fuels.

Hurtigruten, which was founded in Norway in 1893, operates cruises in the Arctic and Antarctic, both of which are particularly vulnerable to marine pollution and climate change. In addition to its fuel conversion plans, the company is banning the use of single use plastics on its vessels. It is in the process of building three new hybrid powered vessels, which are expected to debut in 2021.


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