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Samskip leads initiative for autonomous, zero-emissions containerships

Dec 21, 2018 01:17 PM

Courtesy Samskip

(ROTTERDAM, Netherlands) — Samskip, Europe’s largest multimodal operator, has been named lead partner in Seashuttle, a project seeking to bring emissions-free, autonomous containerships to market that also operate at a profit.

The announcement coincides with the award of 6 million euros of Norwegian government money to Project SeaShuttle to take forward development of two all-electric ships slated to connect Poland, Swedish west coast ports, and the Oslo fjord. The vessels will draw on fuel cells for their propulsion power.
 
Seashuttle is one of six initiatives included in PILOT-E, a 100 million euro initiatiive involving the Research Council, Innovation Norway and Enova, aiming to bring solutions for the climate-neutral industries of the future to market more quickly. Seashuttle funding came from four Norwegian ministries (Food and Fishing; Climate and Environment; Petroleum and Energy; and Transport and Communications).

“Samskip is delighted to take the lead in the project to develop next-generation sustainable shortsea shipping,” said Are Grathen, MD Samskip Norway. “What distinguishes this project and will be key to its success is the combination of fuel and technology that will make it cost competitive with existing solutions. With our trusted project partners, we are convinced that such ambitions are realistic.”

Aspirations for sustainability are best encouraged by door-to-door services that provided cost-effective and scalable competition with truck-ferry options, feeding into a pan-European distribution network, he said. Automation of key shipboard activities would also bring cost savings. “Exporters increasingly seek lower and even zero emissions transport solutions, but they need to be assured on reliability, frequency, efficiency and cost effectiveness,” he said.

Once operational, there is no reason why zero emissions ships should not target the 2,000 truck loads passing through Norwegian ports every day, he added. 

Other Seashuttle partners include logistics consultant FlowChange, technology group Kongsberg Maritime, hydrogen integrator HYON and Massterly, a Kongsberg Maritime/Wilhelmsen venture developing autonomous vessel solutions.

Final Seashuttle ports of call are yet to be determined, but it is already known that the fuel cell technology will convert hydrogen into power for propulsion in a process where electrolysis is envisaged as taking place in a Norwegian port. For the moment, the project envisages zero emissions during 20 percent of a round trip between Poland and the Oslo Fjord – sufficient for all operations in Norwegian waters. That proportion will grow as more stations fill hydrogen along the route. 

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