Interferry conference highlights zero-emissions goal

Interferry conference highlights zero-emissions goal
A record 420 delegates attended the event in London, UK (Image: Interferry)

Interferry’s 44th annual conference focused on innovation and finding ways to drive the global ferry industry towards a lower carbon future, with the eventual goal of achieving net zero emissions.

Speaking at the event in London in early October 2019, International Chamber of Shipping secretary general Guy Platten said that the ferry sector is “at the bow wave of the latest propulsion revolution”.  Platten said that the ferry industry would lead the way in encouraging the wider shipping industry to be more environmentally friendly.  “What you do now, the industry will follow,” Platten told delegates.

However, he advised ferry operators of the need for outside support. “You can’t do it alone,” Platten said. “Ferry operators are more exposed to public perception on emissions. You need the support of consumers, policy makers and financiers – reaching beyond your own community to make sure of an equitable and affordable transition.”

Case studies showcased at the conference highlighted the change’s the industry is making to address climate change. Norled, a Norwegian operator, presented its plans to introduce a hydrogen-fuelled ferry in 2021 and stressed the value of government support for such environmentally sustainable initiatives. The plans follow the company’s launch of the world’s first zero-emission ferry, the all-electric MF Ampere, in 2015.

“By 2022, we will have 72 electric siblings,” said Kjell Ove Hatlem, business development manager at Norled. “The green shift is already there for short routes but not for longer distances. We think liquid hydrogen from clean sources such as wind, water or solar power will be the way.”

The consortium behind another hydrogen-fuelled ferry project, HySeas III, provided an update on its progress at the conference. The team, which is sponsored by the European Union, revealed that the drive train is set to be assembled and tested on land, possibly next February.

Other presentations emphasised the crucial role of collaboration in developing alternative power sources. Sweden’s ForSea Ferries has led the industry in switching from diesel-electric to fully electric operation. “To be the first mover is time consuming,” said Johan Rostin, CEO of ForSea Ferries. “We didn’t anticipate the delays caused by lack of International Maritime Organization rules on lithium batteries and the need for special crew training.”

Smart technology and solutions provider Wärtsilä also spoke at the event. “The technology for cleaner, more sustainable fuels is more or less there but its not connected,” said Roger Holm, marine business president at Wärtsilä. “We have to talk and cooperate with other sectors, especially in an age when more and more people live near ports."

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Alex Smith
By Alex Smith
23 October 2019

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