Norway is a country which takes its environmental responsibilities very seriously and is at the vanguard of changes to reduce emissions from shipping.
Taking a lead on this is The Fjords, a company which operates seven tourism and transport vessels and is co-owned by Fjord1, Norway’s largest ferry company and Flåm AS which works to promote Flam’s world-class tourism opportunities.
On April 19th, 2018, tourist ship owner and operator The Fjords took delivery of a vessel it believes sets new standards for environmentally responsible passenger transport. Future of The Fjords, a 42m long carbon fibre 400 PAX allelectric catamaran, will begin operation in mid-May, making around 700 yearly round trips along the spectacular UNESCO World Heritage listed fjord route between Flåm and Gudvangen. It is the first vessel of its kind to offer completely emission free transport through the beautiful, yet fragile, Western Norwegian landscape.
Future of The Fjords is the sister ship to Vision of The Fjords, a diesel electric hybrid launched to universal acclaim in 2016. Although both ships are designed and constructed by Norwegian shipyard Brødrene Aa, with hulls that mirror the zigzagging mountain paths they sail beside, they are very different once you scratch the surface, as The Fjords CEO Rolf Sandvik explains:
“It is our mission to safeguard the vulnerable environment we give access to, while providing the absolute optimal experience for our passengers,” he notes. “With Future of The Fjords it’s mission accomplished.
“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 with all-electric – thus eradicating all noise and emissions to air for the entire route. Future of The Fjords does just that, minimising its impact on the environment while maximising the experience of passengers who can now glide silently over the water and come closer to nature than ever before. Taking this delivery is a very proud day for us, and for our progressive owners Fjord1 and Flåm AS. The Future has arrived!”
The NOK 144 million vessel is propelled by two 450kW electric motors, enabling cruising speeds of 16 knots along the spectacular 90 minute each way voyage. In another first, The Fjords has, in partnership with Brødrene Aa, developed a unique charging solution called the Power Dock.
This 40m long, 5m wide floating glass fibre dock will sit 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 the Future of The Fjords directly. The innovative solution allows the vessel to stably, efficiently and cost effectively ‘refill’ in just 20 minutes.