There are a number of policy documents at an international, national, regional and local level describing the future that Norway aspires to. The government wants Norway to become a zero-emission society by 2030. This is reflected in the Norwegian government’s Action Plan for Green Shipping, which states that Norwegian ports shall be zero-emission ports by 2030.
The Norwegian government’s maritime strategy Maritime Opportunities – Blue Growth for a Green Future is based on exploiting the untapped potential for greener shipping and developing new and existing technologies throughout the maritime sector. This will not happen automatically, so the various stakeholders involved must dedicate the necessary resources to it over the long term. In order to achieve the objectives set out, the authorities, research communities, and commercial and industrial players will have to collaborate on joint projects.
The City of Bergen has decided that parts of its port shall be moved out of the city centre to other places including Ågotnes. Bergen is currently Norway’s busiest port of call for cruise ships and it is very important to the tourism industry. However, receiving up to eight cruise ships per day so close to the city centre creates challenges. The City of Bergen has decided that the number of ships calling shall be reduced from eight to three per day.
Meanwhile, it is very likely that the number of cruise ships will rise in the future, once the restrictions related to Covid-19 (the illness caused by the new coronavirus) have been lifted and society has returned to normal. There are signs that new requirements for sustainability will be introduced. Cruise ships are likely to face restrictions on calling at historic city centres. Even before the coronavirus pandemic, the Norwegian authorities had introduced a requirement for all cruise ships and ferries operating in its world heritage fjords to be zero-emission by 2026. This requirement is expected to be extended to other Norwegian fjords by 2030.
In the section on social priorities in Askøy’s municipal master plan, the stated aim is to promote maritime passenger services. The municipality also wants to encourage the use of renewable and alternative energy sources. Furthermore, it wants to attract new, green industries, as well as green jobs. It is a priority for the municipality to protect biodiversity.
Specific projects like Kildn are therefore needed to develop the practical answers to today’s challenges and tomorrow’s goals.
We are moving towards a world where autonomous ships, blue and green growth, and innovation within green technology and the energy sector are changing the rules that dictate how ports will be built in the future.
The development of autonomous ships is driving a need for greater electrification of the maritime transport sector. In terms of sustainability, the sea and coastlines are important drivers of economies around the world, including Norway’s. That is leading to blue and green growth that will generate Norway’s wealth from water and the ocean. On account of Norway’s unique geography, ports and coastal communities have traditionally been the main source of new ideas and innovation. These resources will help us to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and facilitate the transition to a green future based on a highly circular economy. Processing and harvesting biological resources from the ocean is high on the political agenda. From a regional perspective, this will allow Kildn to make an important contribution to the future development and expansion of aquaculture, other industrial activities (particularly those related to renewable energy), and industries that form the basis for a stronger public sector.
As a general rule, ships provide a far more energy efficient way of transporting goods than road haulage, but there is still a long way to go towards reaching emission targets in the cruise industry, for example. This is largely a question of investment and the availability of alternative, eco-friendly energy sources at existing ports. In recent years, stricter international rules have been imposed on shipping, limiting emissions to air and water. The need to cut costs associated with fuel consumption means that shipowners are increasingly looking for new ways to become more energy efficient. Examples of this can be seen in the conversion processes taking place at the Port of Stavanger, Port of Trondheim, Port of Bergen, etc.
Ports influence the cost and competitiveness of maritime transport, and they are helping to drive the electrification of the maritime transport sector. The government’s Action Plan for Green Shipping, national strategy for ports, ocean strategy and national transport plans for 2014-2023 and 2018-2029 are some of the policy documents that provide a framework for Norway’s aspirations and ambitions.
Norway’s ports are changing, with big investments being made in preparation for the new rules being introduced in 2026 under the Norwegian government’s plan of action, which will require ports to be zero-emission. Enormous technological development is taking place in the maritime sector, and Norway is at the forefront of several areas, including the introduction of autonomous vessels, electrification and digital control systems. Yara Birkeland is one example of Norwegian climate change policy in action.
The speed at which change can take place will largely depend on power supplies at Norwegian ports. For electrification to take place and for battery-electric ships and ferries to become a reality, ports must have an adequate power supply. Many cities are struggling to supply sufficient power to their charging points, and they would be completely unable to meet the needs of several cruise ships at once if the situation were to arise. For example, the Port of Stavanger is now working to increase its power capacity through the Elnett21 project. Currently there are no ports in Norway that rely entirely on zero-emission energy.
Overtourism in Bergen city centre
There is limited access to space in Bergen city centre. This will partly be solved in 2026 when 24 hectares of land at Dokken will be freed up by the container port being moved to Ågotnes. This is an example of how existing port functions can and should be developed in line with the goal of zero emissions. Nevertheless, many port functions that are critical to transport, logistics, cruises and ferry operations will remain. With that in mind, good alternatives are required. Kildn is one such alternative.
A changing cruise industry
In 2013 there were 22 million cruise passengers worldwide. By 2017, that number had grown to approximately 26.7 million. Most of the growth in the number of cruise passengers was in Asian waters. The central projection is now for 2.5 percent annual growth over the period 2018-2028, and 1.5 percent annual growth over the period 2028-2060. That would mean approximately 2,600 calls at Norwegian cruise ports if no new ports were built.
If you assume that growth in demand will reflect the geographic patterns seen over the past 20 years, then the majority of the growth over the period 2018-2060 will be seen at ports in towns and cities in Western Norway. Demand for cruise experiences in Norway is not waning. This reflects global growth, where the United States and Asia are the most important destination markets.
Kildn will become a complementary port to Bergen. As a tourist destination, Kildn wants to develop a distinctive, world-class profile, with the port functions being a major attraction in their own right, thanks to their design, services and location. As such, it is an important project that aims to combine terminals for cruise ships, ferries, fjord tourism and a fast ferry network with commercial premises, a tourist destination, research, attractions and biodiversity all under one roof.