Are you ready for 85?

Can climate emissions in the Oslofjord be reduced by 85% before 2030?

Publisert: 06.01.2023

INTERNATIONAL FERRIES USE SHORE POWER: International ferries of DFDS use the shore power facility at Utstikker II, which opened in 2019. Color Line's cruise ferries - which run between Oslo and Kiel - gained access to the shore power facility in 2011. In Sydhavna, Heidelberg cement's boats can connect to shore power (established in 2022). The next, natural step is to establish shore power facilities for container ships. The Port of Oslo has recently decided to build a shore power facility for cruise ships at Revierkaia on Vippetangen. Photo: Motion Air/Port of Oslo.

Emission-free Oslofjord is an environmental collaboration between the ports of Oslo, Drammen, Moss, Borg, Larvik, Grenland, Kristiansand and Arendal. 

The ports in Oslofjord all have ambitious climate and environmental targets. We must shift cargo transport from road to the more environmentally friendly energy efficient seaway. The city of Oslo aim to reduce 95 % of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. The Port of Oslo aim to reduce the emissions by 85% in 2030. We will achieve this goal through cooperation and dialogue among the ports in Oslofjord and the most important European hub ports.

Ingvar M. Mathisen, port director for Port of Oslo and chair of Norske Havner (Ports of Norway)
Havnedirektør Ingvar M. Mathisen.(Hovedøya i bakgrunnen.)
PORT DIRECTOR: Ingvar M. Mathisen - port director at the Port of Oslo and chairman of the board of Norske Havner (Norwegian Ports) - supports the work of the port collaboration Emission-free Oslofjord. Mathisen's colleagues in Borg, Grenland, Kristiansand, Larvik, Moss, Drammen and Arendal do the same. Photo: Hans Kristian Riise/Port of Oslo. 

Emission-free Oslofjord - a glimpse into a zero emissions future - 2030: 

An emission-free, plug-in hybrid ship idles silently before departure from the Port of Rotterdam. Loaded with four hundred brightly coloured containers, its fuel tanks filled with compressed hydrogen. 

The container ship disconnects from the shore power plant, and its captain sets course for Port of Kristiansand. Here, the vessel bunkers hydrogen. 

The hybrid ship will continue to Oslo but could just as well have stopped at ports in Arendal, Moss, Borg, Larvik, Grenland, or Drammen. The Oslofjord ports collaborate to offer zero-emission energy sources for emission-free ships. 

The ship now sails silently between Verdens Ende and the nature reserve at Hvaler. The climate footprint of the five-thousand-tonne vessel is limited to small, rhythmic waves lapping stones along the seashore. 

Digital infrastructure makes sailing safe and predictable, regulating speed automatically with other maritime traffic, helping minimize fuel consumption and arrival at the ideal docking time. 

The captains of the container ship and the battery-powered Color Hybrid, en route between Sandefjord and Strømstad, give each other a silent digital nod from a safe distance. ASKO's unmanned sea drone crosses the fjord between Moss and Horten. The captain of the hydrogen-powered container ship nevertheless sends a greeting from a safe distance - out of respect and tradition. At the entrance to Drøbaksundet, a battery-powered cement ship - loaded with stone, sand, and gravel - positions itself in the wake of the container ship. At Oslo's energy harbor - formerly the oil harbor - renewable fuel flows from a tanker into Ekeberghallene. The tanker fuels with biogas. The next stop is the North Sea, freighting carbon captured at the city’s waste facility plant. 

The container ship docks at the container terminal, Yilport Oslo. It shuts down its engines, connects to shore power, and begins charging. Electric sea cranes start unloading. The cement ship docks on the north side of Sjursøya point and connects to shore power. Electric pumps offload gravel, sand, and stone into a cement silo. Aggregates go from the silo to Norcem's concrete factory. Electric trucks transport locally produced concrete from the harbor to zero-emission construction sites in the region. 

Shipping in Oslofjord has cut emissions by 85% compared to 2009. Renewable energy sources power international ferries. Local ferries have been electrified for several years. Within five to ten years, the last diesel-powered ships will be retired.

The zero-emission vision is within reach. 

MS "Color Hybrid" seen from Færder lighthouse. Color Line's MS "Color Hybrid" is the world's largest hybrid ferry and runs between Sandefjord and Strømstad. During the voyage in and out of the Sandefjordsfjord, the ship runs on batteries. Photo: Color Line/Ocotocopterfilm/Glenn Walmann.


The Port of Moss: ASKO's electric sea drone "Marit" on its way out of Port of Moss with cargo. The picture is from the maiden voyage on 3 October. Photo: Port of Moss/WeMade. 



Cooperation and competition 

What can the ports in Oslofjord learn from two American mega ports - the Port of Los Angeles and the Port of Long Beach – which compete intensely to be the biggest and best? The answer is different from what you would expect: cooperation and joint environmental solutions. 

This lesson helped inspire a vision for the port collaboration Emission-free Oslofjord. The goal is emission-free shipping in Oslofjord - from the wide-open sea lanes to Kristiansand in the south to the narrower passages into Oslo in the north. 

On a study trip to Los Angeles in 2017, Heidi Neilson, head of planning and environment at Port of Oslo, saw how the two rival and neighbouring ports compete intensely to be the biggest and best in terms of passenger numbers and cargo volume. Together, the Port of Los Angeles and the Port of Long Beach handle nearly five hundred billion dollars in cargo annually and support five million American jobs.  

Neilson was inspired when she learned that in two critical areas - environment and safety - rivals choose cooperation, standard regulations and guidelines, instead of competition. The few American ports are powerful and can influence shipping companies to meet environmental challenges. Billions of dollars in investment ensured that as early as 2014, shore power was available for large container ships calling at ports in San Pedro Bay.  

As Neilson's research trip ended and her flight home took off from the runway at LAX, she got a clear view of the port facilities. From the air, it was impossible to tell where the Port of Long Beach ends, and the Port of Los Angeles begins. Heidi closed her eyes and imagined an overview of Oslofjord. Here there are several ports of varying sizes and needs. It may not be possible, thought Heidi, for cooperation to succeed in our region. Perhaps each port need to solve the environmental challenges on its own?  


The next chapter in the story begins with a conversation with the shipping companies. "What can we contribute for you to convert the container ships to shore power," Heidi Neilson asks the container shipping companies that regularly calls in the Port of Oslo. The answer: All Oslofjord ports must offer a common standard for shore power facilities. That response led to the birth of the Emission-free Oslofjord project. Three years after Heidi Neilson's visit to Los Angeles, port directors for the eight largest ports in Oslofjord signed an agreement to cooperate on the environment. 

Heidi Neilson - section manager plan and environment at Port of Oslo and head of the port cooperation Emission-free Oslofjord. Emission-free Oslofjord is an environmental collaboration between the ports of Oslo, Drammen, Moss, Borg, Larvik, Grenland, Kristiansand and Arendal. Photo: Hans Kristian Riise/Port of Oslo. 


To meet the target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 85% by 2030, Emission-free Oslofjord will spread knowledge about the potential for reduced emissions from maritime transport and enable decision-makers to choose green solutions. The vision is an emission-free Oslofjord that drives the green shift and helps make it a model for European port cooperation. 

With support from Enova, Oslofjord ports have established, or are in the process of building, several shore power solutions based on a common standard. 

The port collaboration Emission-free Oslofjord will help simplify the transition from fossil fuels to renewable fuels for shipping companies and other customers. We want to break down barriers to the green shift by offering common solutions and share a common environmental policy.

Heidi Neilson, head of the port cooperation, Emission-free Oslofjord, and manager of planning and environment for Port of Oslo
Port director Tore Lundestad and environmental manager Charlotte Iversen at Port of Borg show off the new solar cell plant of 9,600 m2. Annual energy production on the roof is 1.7 million kwh. What is not consumed at the port terminal is sold online. Photo: Growth in Fredrikstad. 
In September 2018, the Port of Kristiansand opened Norway's first shore power facility for cruise ships. More and more shipping companies see the value of connecting to the facility, and the demand is growing every season. The Port of Kristiansand has been a leading port in Norway when it comes to the use of shore power. In 2014, the shore power plant for the ferry terminal was ready. In addition to the high-voltage system at the ferry terminal, the Port of Kristiansand has purchased two mobile shore power systems that supply offshore vessels with power from shore. Port of Kristiansand is now building shore current facilities for container ships, which will be put into operation in 2023. Photo: Port of Kristiansand. 
At Port of Larvik, targeted work is being done to facilitate onshore flow for container ships. Port of Larvik has had electric cranes for container handling for a number of years. This means that much of the infrastructure is in place, so that the establishment of onshore electricity becomes easier. Photo: Port of Larvik. 



But what happens when shipping companies don’t retrofit their ships? Shipping lines demand that the large hub ports in Europe - where they load goods going to Oslofjord – also have similar shore power facilities for small feeder ships. But why should the port of Rotterdam or Hamburg invest in shore power solutions for feeder ships? These European mega ports believe providing shore power for the larger container ships – those arriving from Asia loaded with twenty thousand container units (TEUs) – is the way to reduce their climate footprint significantly.  

The climate plan Fit for 55 will ensure the EU achieves its goal of reducing emissions of greenhouse gases by 55% by 2030. A sustainable transition to net zero greenhouse gas emissions in 2050 means that all forms of transport must contribute to emission reductions. New legislative proposals from the EU require all container ships over five thousand gross tonnes to connect to shore power at European ports by 2030. Fortunately, this includes feeder ships transporting containers between Europe and Oslofjord.  

In the autumn of 2022, Heidi Neilson and her colleagues from Emission-free Oslofjord visited central ports in the Netherlands and Belgium. Neilsen and her colleagues challenge the ports to choose cooperation, standard regulations, and common guidelines instead of competition. Their message: Our solution for shore power is tested and ready to use. Together, we can establish a seamless and effective charging infrastructure for feeder ships in Northern Europe well before 2030. Ports in Rotterdam, Antwerp, and Moerdijk - mega ports the size of the Port of Los Angeles and the Port of Long Beach welcome the initiative.  

In 2023, Emission-free Oslofjord want to continue the work to formalize a common environmental committment between the ports in Oslofjord and Hamburg, Rotterdam, and Antwerp. The agreement will set timelines for establishing shore power infrastructure in all ports – by 2025 in the Oslofjord and 2030 at the latest for the European ports.  

Emission-free Oslofjord will also help reduce the technical and financial barriers to shore power and renewable fuels. 

Our shared vision is an emission-free Oslofjord. We will provide expertise to relevant decision-makers and facilitate the establishment of green corridors on sea and land in Oslofjord.

Heidi Neilson

Breaking Barriers 

Container shipping companies estimate it will cost two hundred thousand Euros to convert a single ship to shore power. A cost the shipping companies are not willing to bear. Collaboration with a shore power supplier resulted in an alternative solution, which reduced the price to fifty thousand Euros. Fifty different container ships dock at Yilport Oslo every year. If only the fifteen vessels most frequently at call convert to shore power, Port of Oslo can cut 90% of emissions at Norway's largest container terminal. International ferries, local ferries, and cement ships already use shore power in some Oslofjord ports. Shore power for container ships will be a breakthrough and crucial for meeting the targets for greenhouse gas emissions. The goal is to connect the first container ship to shore power at an Oslofjord port in 2024. By 2025, perhaps ten container ships will have access to shore power.  

Reaching sustainability goals requires new and robust partnerships. Authorities, businesses, and other civic stakeholders must work together to achieve sustainable development, according to the UN's Sustainable Development Goal 17.  

The green shift in shipping is an evolutionary story of cooperation and competition.  

  • ASKO's electric sea drones already shuttle between Moss and Horten. ASKO is phasing out the transport of goods by truck through the Oslofjord tunnel. 
  • Yara Birkeland - a battery-powered, autonomous container ship - transports fertilizer between Herøya and Brevik. 
  • Buksér og Berging (BB) is an early adopter of local and international requirements. In 2024, BB will use an electric tugboat in Oslo harbor with enough power to tow the largest cruise and container ships.  
Fully electric, and eventually autonomous, Yara Birkeland on its way from Yara's factory on Herøya to the Brevik terminal, which is owned by Port of Grenland. Photo: Knut Brevik Andersen, Wilhelmsen Ship Service. 


Renewable fuels 

The next step in the evolutionary history of emission-free shipping in Oslofjord is a joint investment in renewable fuels for ships and land transport. Heidi Neilson and her colleagues in the Oslofjord ports know many people have doubts. Sceptics do not see hydrogen, methanol, or ammonia as realistic replacements for diesel. Oslofjord ports will facilitate at least one green corridor in Oslofjord in 2025. That same year we hope to see the first container ship operating on compressed hydrogen. Sailing from Rotterdam to Oslo.

When that vessel docks and connects to shore power, the first green corridor in Oslofjord will be a reality.