SAFETY4SEA: What are currently the biggest environmental challenges for the shipping industry? What is Bellona’s response?

Jan Kjetil Paulsen: The absolutely biggest challenge for the shipping industry is to take its fair share of reducing climate emission in accordance with the Paris agreement – ie. be climate neutral within the next 30-40 years.


S4S:  During a side event on COP23, Bellona discussed about the electric revolution that is taking place in shipping. Could you tell us briefly which were the key issues on your agenda and what was the key outcome of the event?

J.K.Paulsen: During the last few years, ZEV technology has been developed for a range of vessel types. Norwegian technology companies and demanding customers have developed this for a range of applications.  Public (government) procurement has played an important role in developing the new solutions, initiated  by the National Roads Administrations requirements for low- and zero emission solutions to be implemented for the numerous car ferries crossing the Norwegian fjords. The technology developed for ferries has also been implemented in other segments of shipping, ranging from fishing vessels to large sea-going cargo-ships. The purpose of our side event held during COP23 was to highlight how the Norwegian experience with low- and zero emission technology could be of use in other markets. Maritime ZEV technology developed so far is very well suited for short-sea shipping and inland waterways. Maybe 8-10.000 vessels in Europe could be users of these solutions for the benefit of both climate and air quality/local emissions.


S4S: How does electrification incentivize the maritime industry to cut emissions? What are the benefits?

J.K.Paulsen: Similar to electrification of road transport, electrification of  maritime industry will certainly contribute to cutting emissions from fossile energy sources. Clean electricity from renewable energy is being developed and will off course be required to achieve these goals.


S4S: What could be the right environmental and financial incentives to facilitate electric vessels from your perspective?

J.K.Paulsen: Electrification of shipping will in most cases represent a profitable business case: energy from renewable electricity can in most european countries compete with energy from fossile sources:Electric motors are less complicated than combustion engines, which again will increase life-time and reduce service and maintenance cost for the equipment. The initial investments (CAPEX) in new technology might be a challenge, as well as investments in the required infrastructure for shore connection and chargin infrastructure. The latter must be seen as a public responsibility financed by the government and managed by the local harbour / waterways administrations


S4S: Do you think that the industry is ready for shipping electrification in terms of technology, installation and operation?

J.K.Paulsen: The technology is there, tested and verified both with respect to functionality and safety. Forward-leaning operators will easily be able to adapt to the new technology where applicable – simply motivated by the profitable business case.


S4S: Where does the industry currently stand with respect to electrification?  Should we expect more projects to be launched up to 2020?

J.K.Paulsen: The experience from Norway is obvious: Electrification of shipping is happening as we speak, and new projects are launched every day! Improved technology and products with optimized performance and efficiency are made available almost day by day. These experiences are scalable and can be implemented in several other markets. However – bear in mind that electrification as means for zero emission gives a somewhat limited operating range. For deep sea shipping and ocean crossing vessels other solutions and energy carriers must be found.


S4S: What should be the top priorities for the shipping industry stakeholders towards a more sustainable future for the shipping industry? What is your key message? 

J.K.Paulsen: For short sea shipping and inland waterways: electrification will be a very important factor . For deep sea shipping we must find other solutions for both the short and long-term perspectives. Speed reductions will improve energy efficiency and reduce energy demand, however not to zero. The big challenge for the industry is to find suitable energy carbon-free energy carriers to serve a world with an increasing demand for transport.


The views presented hereabove are only those of the author and not necessarily those of SAFETY4SEA and are for information sharing and discussion purposes only.

About  , Senior Advisor Shipping at the Bellona Foundation

Jan Kjetil Paulsen works with international and short-sea shipping, focusing on new technology and operational practices for reducing emissions and pollution from ships. He is also representing Bellona’s membership in international organizations developing framework and regulations for the shipping industry. He holds an MSc. degree in ship technology and has previous experience from technology and business development from both marine technology and land-based industries.



  • For an electric ferry, the environmental impact of producing the batteries can be counterbalanced by emission reduction in the ship within 1.4 months, which makes it a really environmentally-friendly solution.
  • The new fully electric catamaran ‘Future of the Fjords‘ is set to become operational in Norway from late spring 2018 with the capacity to carry up to 400 passengers.
  • The Dutch Port-Liner is currently building two fully electric barges to operate in the Netherlands, the first zero-emission barges in Europe’s waterways. The vessels are part of a 100 million-euro project partially supported by EU.
  • Shore power (or shore-to-ship power) is a significant aspect of electrification, defined as the provision of shoreside electrical power to a ship at berth while its main and auxiliary engines are shut down.
  • As a large cruise ship moored at shore can emit the equivalent amount of NOx and SOx as 13.000 cars, and as emissions from ships at ports comprise about 7% of a ship’s total emissions, shore-power is a well-established solution for complete ports emissions reduction.
  • Shore power is also called "cold ironing", a term that came into use when all ships had coal-fired engines. When a ship tied up at port, there was no need to continue to feed the fire and the iron engines would literally cool down, eventually going completely cold – hence the term "cold ironing".
  • Electrification is considered an ideal zero-emissions solution for short sea and inland shipping, but for ocean going vessels, it offers limited operating range, creating the need for other efficient solutions to be found.
  • China launched the world’s first 2,000-metric-ton fully electric cargo ship in Guangzhou in November 2017, to operate along the inland section of the Pearl River Delta. The vessel will be the first of its kind to use a lithium battery as a power source for propulsion.