As the 21st century marches onwards, more people are beginning to realize the dire state of the world’s climate and environment. Currently, there are continent-wide pushes to develop and exploit clean energy while minimizing carbon footprints. The focus of these new developments is to ultimately help protect and ensure the continuation of the natural world. One recent announcement concerns Europe’s first steps to electrify its shipping fleets and to help cut down on the amount of fossil fuels used in international shipping. International shipping produces an incredible carbon footprint. The consumer economy and consumer culture around the world demand that ships be constantly moving from port to port, dropping off and picking up consumer goods.
This process has actually been an ongoing one since around 2015. In Western Norway, the MS Ampere has been ferrying people around, smoke free, seven days a week, powered almost exclusively by electric power and operating almost identically to modern electric cars. Due to Norway’s geography, sea travel by ferry is often the fastest and most convenient way to get to large number places all over the country. It is not surprising, therefore, that Norway has been one of the global leaders in electric-powered ships.
The technology and effort, however, are still in their initial stages. Experts maintain that converting the world’s shipping fleet to electric energy is a major undertaking and remains a long-term goal. There needs to be new, more sophisticated batteries, as well as the establishment of a new, comprehensive regulatory framework. Large ocean-going commercial vessels require a tremendous amount of energy and while electric energy is an attractive option for ships that only travel short distances (such as Norway’s ferries), transatlantic, or circumnavigations of the globe would require, as it stands, an almost unthinkable amount of electric energy.
Other analysts also point to the industry’s conservative mindset, claiming that many of the gatekeepers and important thinkers and planners in the industry are under the impression that a paradigm shift from fossil fuels to electricity is just not practical. Challenges or not, Norway is still attempting to make headway in the quest for large scale renewable energy implementation in global commercial transportation. Shipping will continue to be one of the primary targets of the global green revolution while companies and organizations realize the fundamental role they have to play in keeping the planet and the biosphere healthy and livable well into the future.
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