The Sea Zero concept ship promises zero-carbon, all-electric cruising

Hurtigruten Norway Sea Zero Concept Ship
Charting a course for a greener future, the Sea Zero revolutionizes cruising with its zero-carbon emission technology. Images © VARD Design

Oslo-based cruise and ferry company, Hurtigruten Norway, is marking its 130th anniversary by unveiling a transformative vision for the future of cruising — the Sea Zero concept ship. Designed to leave zero-carbon footprint, Sea Zero is an ambitious endeavor encompassing a suite of innovative technologies such as battery-powered propulsion and artificial intelligence.

In the wake of a global pandemic, cruising still thrives as a preferred pastime, with an estimated 31 million passengers embarking on 302 ships this year. Regrettably, the majority of these vessels rely heavily on diesel fuel, thereby significantly impacting the environment. This negative impact becomes particularly severe in confined waterways such as fjords or ecologically sensitive regions like Antarctica.

Addressing these environmental challenges, Hurtigruten Norway aims to develop a sustainable, zero-emission cruise ship to operate along the Norwegian coast by 2030. This milestone will signal the beginning of an ambitious plan to transition the company’s entire fleet to eco-friendly alternatives.

Sea Zero is set to be an impressive vessel, with a length of 135 meters (443 feet) and the capacity to carry 500 passengers across 270 cabins, in addition to a crew of 99. The ship’s design takes inspiration from the classic Art Deco style, offering a modern twist that features a streamlined hull hiding three retractable 50-meter (164-foot) sails. These sails, with a total surface area of 750 square meters (8,073 square feet), will supplement the 60-megawatt-hour batteries charged at the shore, powering the ship. The autonomous sails are also outfitted with 1,500 square meters (16,146 square feet) of solar panels to further bolster clean propulsion.

Sea Zero Concept Ship Passenger and Cargo
Sea Zero will be able to carry freight and passengers.

While the Sea Zero’s sleek design is impressive, it’s the behind-the-scenes technology that truly sets it apart. Features such as air lubrication, advanced hull coating, and proactive hull cleaning systems work in synergy to reduce drag and increase efficiency. For those curious about the ship’s energy consumption, a charge level indicator is mounted outside the hull, easily visible to passersby.

The ship also comes with contra-rotating propellers and multiple retractable thrusters. The true centerpiece, however, is the state-of-the-art artificial intelligence system installed on the bridge, designed more like an aircraft cockpit than the control center of a 20th-century transatlantic liner. This system reduces the crew needed to operate the ship while learning the specifics of Norwegian ports, thus easing the pressure on harbor pilots.

Given that a cruise ship essentially operates as a floating hotel, with accommodations consuming up to 50% of the available energy, Hurtigruten Norway has incorporated a new ventilation system into the passenger areas. Passengers will also have access to an app to monitor their power and water consumption, promoting a conscious reduction of energy use.

Sea Zero Concept Ship Norwegian Fjord
Visual concept visualization of Hurtigruten Norway’s zero-emission Sea Zero ship in Hjørundfjord, Norway.

As a cargo company, Hurtigruten Norway’s Sea Zero is designed to transport freight and a large number of cars, in addition to passengers. The project is expected to focus on technology development for the next two years, emphasizing battery production, propulsion technology, hull design, and energy-saving practices.

Hedda Felin, CEO of Hurtigruten Norway, reflected on the uncertainties that came with the initial announcement of the Sea Zero project. She stated, “Our task was to pave the way for new innovations and enhance existing ones to align with our sustainability objectives. While some of these technologies have reached a relatively advanced stage, they still necessitate dedicated research and development to ensure successful implementation within the maritime context. Following a rigorous feasibility study, we have pinpointed the most promising technologies for our groundbreaking future cruise ships.”

The vision for Sea Zero signifies a transformative shift in the cruise industry, one that marries state-of-the-art technology with sustainability principles. The industry’s impact on the environment can no longer be ignored, and Hurtigruten Norway is leading the way in making change a reality.

“We are committed to delivering a ship that surpasses all others in terms of energy efficiency and sustainability within just a few years,” Felin declared. This bold commitment places Hurtigruten Norway at the forefront of the industry, moving towards an era of sustainable cruising. Check out the video below for an introduction to Sea Zero.

Source: Hurtigruten Norway