Breaking new ground: the all-electric, zero-emissions Future of The Fjords
Norwegian cruise vessel offers amazing tourist experience while protecting fragile UNESCO World Heritage environment
Future of the Fjords, the world’s first all-electric and completely emissions-free ship, launched in April this year by Norwegian tours operator The Fjords, is now operating as a cruise vessel on the spectacular Gudvangen to Flåm route along the Nærøyfjord, Sognefjord and Aurlandsfjord of western Norway. Future of The Fjords was commissioned as part of the shipowner’s program of fleet renewal with the backing of Fjord1, the largest ferry operator in Norway, and of Flåm AS, the company that promotes tourism in the Flåm area, to provide vessels that deliver optimal passenger experiences with minimal environmental impact.
Constructed by specialist shipbuilder Brødrene Aa, the new vessel retains the eye-catching ‘mountain path’ design and environmentally-friendly build of its sister ship Vision of the Fjords, a hybrid diesel-electric vessel, with a hull that minimizes wake and reduces shoreline impact erosion. The Power Dock, the ship’s revolutionary floating charging station, which was also developed in partnership with Brødrene Aa, takes on gray and black water to ensure no sewage discharge into the pristine waters between Gudvangen and Flåm. Future of The Fjords also offers up to 400 passengers spectacular panoramic views of the western Norwegian fjords, with a guaranteed one meter each of railing on deck for a unique ‘front-row’ experience of nature.
According to The Fjords CEO Rolf Sandvik, the ship’s similarities with Vision of the Fjords stop with its outer design and the scenery on offer to its passengers:
“Under the skin, this new craft is a different beast,” he said. “Vision of the Fjords switches from diesel to electric power when journeying along the UNESCO World Heritage listed Nærøyfjord. It represented an important step forward on our journey to transform tourism in this delicate natural wonderland, but this new ship is, quite simply, our dream come true. It marks the fulfilment of a vision. It is our mission to safeguard the vulnerable environment we give access to, while providing the absolute optimal experience for our passengers. With Future of The Fjords it is mission accomplished. We now hope Future of the Fjords can become a benchmark for environmentally responsible vessel operators worldwide, ushering in a new breed of clean, green and spectacular passenger transportation.”
Sandvik continued: “Future of The Fjords not only provides an optimal passenger experience, with the only noise being the fjords’ natural soundtrack, but it also showcases a new, zero-emissions way to enjoy and safeguard this fragile landscape. The vessel is totally different from anything else on the water, showing what can be achieved with the determination, investment and ambition to operate responsibly and sustainably. We want this to be a paradigm for the industry. We believe this really is the future of the fjords.”
Industry Leaders’ Collaboration
Future of The Fjords, which took its first passengers through the UNESCO World Heritage listed Nærøyfjord on May 15 this year, was conceived, developed and constructed through a collaboration between leading industry players, each contributing its individual competencies to provide the key pieces of this environmentally responsible vessel.
The new DNV GL classed ‘light craft’ is propelled by two 450 kW electric motors, enabling cruising speeds of 16 knots. In addition to its advanced propulsion system, Future of the Fjords features upgraded IT systems to ensure that the ship meets modern digital demands. The vessel also features a restaurant and high comfort levels.
“Vision of The Fjords was an important development for us, but we had the ambition to take it one step further and replace the diesel-electric propulsion system with an all-electric one,” added Sandvik. “Taking this delivery is a very proud day for us, and for our progressive owners Fjord1 and Flåm AS. By introducing another vessel of this class, we are also able to expand the premium capacity on this special waterway. That leads to some economy of scale and will help keep ticket prices at very attractive levels. We want everyone to have the opportunity to experience the Future of The Fjords.”
The ship cost NOK 144 million (about $17 million), marking a significant increase over the NOK 90 million (about $10.6 million) price tag of Vision of the Fjords. Much of the extra investment is the result of opting for an all-electric solution. Enova, an organization promoting low-emissions solutions backed by the Norwegian Ministry of Petroleum and Energy, provided NOK 17.8 million funding (about $2.2 million) in support of the project.
Innovative charging solution
The Power Dock charging solution developed jointly by The Fjords and Brødrene Aa, is a 40-meter long, 5-meter wide floating glass fiber dock that sits in the water at Gudvangen, housing a 2.4 MWh battery pack. This charges steadily throughout the day via connection to the local grid network, which does not have the capacity to charge Future of The Fjords directly. The innovative solution allows the vessel to stably, efficiently and cost-effectively ‘refill’ in 20 minutes. The Power Dock also stores consumables and fuel for sister vessels, and allows black water to be offloaded for treatment on land. This makes Future of The Fjords the only passenger vessel not to discharge sewage directly into the fjords.
“An important leap forward”
“This is a big and important leap forward in the ongoing maritime battery revolution, with The Fjords now taking us one step closer to an emission-free transport sector,” commented Petter Hersleth, marketing manager at Enova. “We believe that Future of the Fjords will help inspire the travel industry to adopt battery-powered vessels faster, both here in Norway and abroad.”
Norwegian-headquartered environmental campaigner Bellona also supported the project: Frederic Hauge, Bellona’s founder and president, said the new ship marked a “fantastic” development for tourism in the region and stated that the Fjords vessels were “an example to follow for the rest of the industry.”
He added that tighter regulations from both national and local authorities were now required to protect the area, noting: “We must dare to define requirements regarding how our precious World Heritage fjords are managed and experienced. In the future, tourists coming to see our pristine nature will not accept anything less than emission-free experiences. The Fjords is now demonstrating that this is possible, from both an operational and business perspective.”
Future of The Fjords: Technical Specs
Building material: Carbon-fiber sandwich/ Vinylester
Vessel type: Passenger catamaran
Flag: NOR Fartsområde 2
Class: DNVGL 1A1 HSLC R5 Passenger
IMO Number: 9830214
Passenger capacity: 400
Length o.a. 42.49 m
Length p.p. 40.85 m
Beam o.a. 15.2 m
Gross tonnage 770
Fresh water 1x 3000 liter
Gray water1 x 2000 liter
Black water 1x 3000 liter
Bilge water 1x 200 liter
Engines & Propulsion
Main engines (Electrical) 2x Ramme 450 kW
Propulsion system Servogear Ecoflow Propulsion
Reduction gearbox Servogear HD220
Bowthruster 2x Sleipner SAC350
Stern thruster 2x Sleipner SAC450
Battery installations ZEM – 1800 kWh Lithium ion
Power management system Westcon Power & Automation
Deck equipment Anchor systemMB Hydraulikk 1-AV-24K2 / SEC Anchor 237 kg/Mørenot
Passenger seats West Mekan
Seats brigde Alu Design 540
Flooring Nordic flooring / Egetepper
Toilets Jets Sanitary System
Evacuation system Survitec
Companies with vision: The Fjords’ backers, Fjord1 AS and Flåm AS
Fjord1 AS is one of the major transportation companies in Norway with a core operational area in sea-based transportation by ferries and passenger vessels. In addition, the company has operations in the areas of catering, travel agency services and property management. Fjord1 AS is owned by Havila AS and the County Council of Sogn and Fjordane. For further information visit www.fjord1.no
Flåm AS is a leading provider of tourist attractions in the fjords and mountains of western Norway and is the global marketing and sales arm of the Flåm tourist business cluster which includes world-recognised attractions such as the Flåmsbana railroad and The Fjords’ cruises in UNESCO World Heritage fjords. Flåm AS is owned by SIVA, a Norwegian state business development company, Aurland municipality and Aurland Savings Bank. For further information visit www.visitflam.com
Key partners in realizing Future of The Fjords
Brødrene Aa: A world leader in designing and building passenger ships from carbon-fiber composites, Norwegian shipyard Brødrene Aa created the iconic design of Vision of The Fjords and Future of The Fjords, and designed and constructed the innovative Power Dock.
DNV GL: Classification society DNV GL was on hand throughout the project to provide advisory and class services (classing the vessel as a ‘light craft’), using its expertise to guide the collaborators through the entire compliance process and deliver technical insight.
Enova: Enova is a Norwegian organization promoting low-emission solutions, and is backed by the Norwegian Ministry of Climate and Environment. Future of The Fjord’s all-electric propulsion solution pushed the cost of the vessel to NOK 54 million (about $6.4 million) above that of its sister ship. Enova provided NOK 17.8 million funding (about $2.2 million) to help make the vessel a reality. In addition, the organization provided funding of NOK 6.9 million (about $850,000) for the Power Dock solution.
Bellona: The Bellona Foundation is an international NGO working to combat climate change through identifying and promoting environmentally sustainable solutions. Bellona acted as a project consultant and supporter, with Future of The Fjords complementing the organization’s long-standing mission to move the maritime industry towards zero-emission transportation.
Westcon Power & Automation: Independent systems integrator Westcon tailored the vessels’ all-electric propulsion and battery system to comply with the stringent environmental and operational demands of The Fjords.
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