Hurtigruten has signed a letter of intent with Rolls-Royce to upgrade up to nine of its diesel-engine cruise ships with LNG and battery hybrid power – a move that soon will be followed by other cruise and ferry operators.
While the shift from diesel to LNG has been done before on merchant vessels, it has never been done on such a large scale, and other passenger ship operators will be watching progress closely. If all goes well, many will be encouraged to follow suit for both retrofits and newbuilds.
With the 2020 low sulphur deadline looming, there are some obvious benefits to be gained from using a mix of LNG and battery power.
And – with the recent IMO agreement to reduce total annual global shipping emissions by 50% by the middle of the 21st century – passenger ship operators are looking at further regulation-based reasons to follow in Hurtigruten’s footsteps.
The upgrade will allow Hurtigruten’s ships to reduce CO2 emissions by at least 25%, for example.
National government regulations will boost the use of LNG and battery hybrid systems, too. Norway, for one, is setting strict CO2 emission reduction targets for shipping, as in the case for seven ferry routes recently awarded to Hurtigruten by the government. And other countries are bound to follow.
There are also a greater number of LNG-related options for passenger ship operators to choose from than there are in other sectors. And more are regularly being developed. For example, the Rolls-Royce LNG engine being used by Hurtigruten is new.
With this deal, and the conditions discussed above, the tide is ready to turn, and the slow trickle of LNG adoption may soon become a flood.