In a few years, an electric cruise ship with giant solar sails will be launched on the water

Cruise company Hurtigruten Norway has unveiled plans for a zero-emission electric cruise ship with retractable sails covered in solar panels. This miracle liner plans to sail in 2030, as detailed in the publication CNN

Photo: IStock

The company's fleet currently consists of eight vessels, each with a capacity of 500 passengers, that sail along the Norwegian coast from Oslo to the Arctic Circle. Although it is a relatively small company, CEO Hedda Felin hopes such an innovation "could inspire the entire maritime industry."

The project, called Sea Zero, was originally announced in March 2022 – since then, Hurtigruten Norway, together with 12 maritime partners and the Norwegian research institute SINTEF, has been exploring technological solutions to help achieve emissions-free sea travel.

The resulting design will be powered primarily by 60 megawatt batteries that can be recharged at the port, renewables make up 98% of Norway's power grid. Jerry Larsson-Fedde, senior vice president of maritime operations at Hurtigruten Norway, who came up with the idea for a zero-emission ship, estimates that the batteries will have a range of 300 to 350 nautical miles, i.e. for an 11-day voyage there and back one liner should be charged about seven or eight times.

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To reduce dependence on the battery, in windy weather, reaching a maximum height of 50 meters, three retractable sails or wings are raised above the deck. According to Larsson-Fedde, they can be adjusted independently of each other: shrinking to pass under bridges, or changing the angle of inclination to catch the highest wind speed. He specifies that the sails will be covered with a total of 1500 square meters of solar panels designed to generate energy to charge batteries while sailing, and the battery level will be displayed on board the ship.

You can see how this miraculous miracle looks like by link.

“In Norway it is sometimes dark in the winter, but the sun still shines in the south – we have it 24 hours a day in the summer. We will become super powerful thanks to the polar day,” he says.

The ship will be equipped with 270 cabins, accommodating 500 guests and 99 crew members. Its streamlined shape will result in less air resistance, helping to further reduce energy consumption. On board, guests will be encouraged to minimize their own climate impact with an interactive mobile app that tracks their personal water and energy consumption.

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“We want them to better understand how much energy they use by spending 10 minutes more in the shower or using the air conditioner at full blast,” explains Larsson-Fedde.

More sustainable transportation

According to the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the UN body that regulates shipping, it accounts for about 3% of global anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. In 2018, the IMO set a goal to reduce the industry's greenhouse gas emissions by at least half by 2050.

This has led to a new wave of sustainable sailing projects, from the transatlantic haulier Oceanbird and various retractable cargo ships to the Oceanco Black Pearl superyacht and the hard sail cruise ship Chantiers de Atlanique.

Larsson-Fedde notes that although the Hurtigruten Norway project will have a backup engine for safety reasons, it will run on environmentally friendly fuels such as ammonia, methanol or biofuels.

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The wider Hurtigruten group has long been promoting sustainable shipping. Hurtigruten Expeditions launched the world's first battery-powered hybrid cruise ship in 2019 and is currently in the process of converting the rest of its expedition fleet to battery-powered hybrids.

“We depend on the ocean and the environment,” says Felin. “We want to advance and be a leader in sustainability because we believe our industry is too slow in doing so and not ambitious enough.”

Over the next two years, Hurtigruten Norway will test the proposed technologies before completing design in 2026 and planning to start production in 2027. The first vessel is due to enter Norwegian waters in 2030. After that, the company hopes to gradually convert its entire fleet to zero-emission vessels.

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