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One step closer to emission-free fast ferries


Functional requirements, and not detailed specifications, are important for the industry to develop the best technology for the future, according to Servogear CEO Torleif Stokke.


Servogear was invited by the leading ocean cluster NCE Maritime CleanTech to Arendalsuka, which is Norway´s most important meeting place for organisations, companies and politicians. They come together in this picturesque Norwegian coastal town to discuss our common sustainable and smart future.


- Servogear are proud to be selected to represent the industry in the panel discussion about the future emission-free fast ferries. Our message to those who design the tenders is that they have to provide functional requirements for the industry to develop the best technology. They should for instance require that a vessel operating on certain routes is emission-free, CEO Torleif Stokke says.


His views are supported by Erlend Solem, managing director of public transport in the Trøndelag region. They want to develop what might become the world´s first public fast ferry fuelled by hydrogen. 


- Functional requirements, and not detailed specifications as authorities often refer to, are crucial to enable the industry to develop the best solutions for the future. The industry is capable of designing the best solutions in order to reach our targets, Solem says.


No limits for the industry


More than 30 people went to listen to the debate between politicians, organizations and the industry held on board Norway´s largest sailing ship, Statsraad Lemkuhl berthed at Arendal port. Trøndelag has been a driving force in the fast ferry sector in Norway, with it´s strict environmental requirements. In September five consortiums will present their concepts for a emission-free fast ferry on the famous Trondheim-fjord, among them the ZEFF project, in which Servogear is a partner.


- We are looking forward to learn more about the five concepts. We know that what we will see is a recipe for vessels that the world has never seen before and environmental solutions that never before has been utilized in this business. The industry seem very competent and has got an extreme ability to develop new solutions fast. One year ago the consortiums said that their technology could manage a speed of 30 knots for half an hour. Today at least two of the groups say that they can operate the vessel for four hours. They have multiplied the reach by eight in only one year. It seems to be no limits for what this industry can do, Solem says.


He explains how the project started with ambitious politicians in 2013, wanting to slash emissions from transportation to the half. They were shocked to learn that their five fast ferries were responsible for the same amount of greenhouse gas emissions as their 600 buses.


- I am really impressed by how Trøndelag push the limits of the industry. I am pleased to say that we are ready to deliver the technology they need to fulfil the ambitions of the politicians, Torleif Stokke comments.


Energy-efficient propulsion is crucial


Servogear is a partner with Selfa Arctic, LMG Marin, Hyon and Norled in the ZEFF consortium. And whatever happens in September, the ZEFF project will be further developed by the group.


- Servogear´s contribution is optimized propulsion systems, that will reduce the energy consumption to a minimum. Energy-efficient propulsion is a key to realize an emission-free fast ferry, Torleif Stokke explains.


For the Norwegian maritime industry this is not all about sustainable operation of fast ferries, but also developing technology that can be exported.


- We import electric cars, but can export electric vessels. There is a huge global market for car ferries, but an even greater market for fast ferries. But the greatest potential can be utilized if we use this as a training arena for the largest ships, on sectors as cruise, container and tank, Erlend Solems says.