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trueHUE® Water cooler stories
The cruise industry is booming — but it is incredibly damaging to the environment. Most companies rely on dirty heavy oil, but some lines are taking a different approach. Can cruise ships become sustainable?
When the Roald Amundsen launches on June 27, it will become the first hybrid-powered cruise ship in the world, propelled by both electric motors and internal combustion engines — not unlike the Toyota Prius and other such automobiles. The technology is designed to make the ship more fuel efficient, with Hurtigruten claiming it will cut fuel consumption by 20 percent.
“We are the greenest cruise company in the world,” says Hurtigruten spokesman Rune Thomas Ege, though he quickly adds that he isn’t actually fond of the term “cruise line.”
“We are part of a very polluting industry,” says Ege. “But we are the only ones to welcome stricter emission rules.” The example he points to is heavy fuel oil, which releases sulfur gases and other contaminants. Hurtigruten hasn’t used the fuel for the last 10 years, even in places where it is permitted. Ege says that the line uses expensive marine diesel instead, resulting in annual extra costs of 15 million euros per year.
Carnival, one of the largest cruise ship corporations in the world, has already gone even further with the 2018 launching of the AIDAnova, the first cruise ship powered by liquified natural gas. Ten additional such ships are to follow by 2025.
Carnival executive Jens Kohlmann estimates that an additional 25 million euros are added to construction costs, amounting to roughly 3 percent of the price of a new cruise ship.
Kohlmann is also interested in the hybrid technology that Hurtigruten has now introduced. He hopes that within three years, a Carnival ship will be outfitted with the system for testing purposes.
The engineers from Hurtigruten hope that the greatest savings will come through “peak shaving.” Ships often need a sudden surge of energy — while maneuvering, for example, or when energy-intensive systems are switched on. In such instances, conventional ships have to start an additional motor or generator, only to turn it off again a short time later. The process drives up fuel consumption in addition to wear and tear.
The compensatory power from the battery packs can eliminate the need to switch motors on and off.
Natural gas-powered ships require fueling stations that can pump liquified natural gas, and that infrastructure is only now being slowly established in Europe.