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The Nordic Roadmap: Plotting a course for the maritime energy transition

Led by DNV, the Nordic Roadmap project brings together key stakeholders from across the Nordic region in comprehensively plotting a course for the transition to to carbon-neutral fuels. Collaboration and innovation lay the groundwork for the Nordic Fuel Transition Roadmap. The piloting of green shipping corridors aim to support the ultimate goal of zero-emission shipping in 2050.

Recent moves by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) have set more ambitious decarbonization targets for international shipping. In addition, the Nordic countries have committed to an acceleration of the process, for example by signing the Declaration on Zero Emission Shipping by 2050 and the Clydebank Declaration for Green Shipping Corridors during COP26 in 2021. These commitments have all set the stage for the establishment of the Nordic Fuel Transition Roadmap, which will help to make the Nordic region the most sustainable and integrated maritime region in the world by 2030.

The foundation of the Nordic Roadmap project

Since 2015, DNV has coordinated the Norwegian Green Shipping Programme (GSP), including developing the collaboration platform and facilitating pilot projects. The GSP has already led to the realization of several zero-emission routes (now known as green shipping corridors) in Norway, such as Yara Birkeland and ASKO’s electrified and soon-to-be autonomous “sea drones” operating across the Oslofjord. In addition, DNV has been involved in the electrification of the Norwegian ferry network, where more than 70 battery-electric ferries are now operating along the Norwegian coast.

Inspired by the GSP, DNV manages the Nordic Roadmap project – a project funded by the Nordic Council of Ministers with strong regional support from all of the Nordic countries – which in its early stages involves building the necessary technical knowledge and establishing the Nordic collaboration platform, as well as the key task of contributing to regulatory development for ammonia and hydrogen. With these building blocks in place, the main focus now is to develop a strategic fuel transition roadmap for the Nordics and initiate green shipping corridor pilot studies.

To date, the project has delivered ten technical reports, where green shipping corridors and safety aspects of the future fuels have been a key focus. The reports have been delivered in collaboration with the contributing partners Chalmers University of Technology, IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute, MAN Energy Solutions, Menon Economics and Litehauz. This project is also drawing on the input and experience of around 50 supporting partners across the Nordics. Each of these partners brings value to the key deliverables of the project, and the Nordic Roadmap aims to continually recruit more partners as it advances towards the piloting of green shipping corridors.

Assembly of Nordic stakeholders

Collaboration lies at the heart of the Nordic Roadmap project.  

“We need to create a cross-value chain dialogue and build green business cases. The Nordic collaboration platform is established to facilitate knowledge-sharing and greener partnerships,” says Dorthe Alida Slotvik, Consultant in Environment Advisory at DNV Maritime, and part of the DNV team steering the Nordic Roadmap project. “The focus is to overcome key barriers for the uptake of zero-emission fuels and to accelerate the decarbonization of Nordic shipping.” 

The success of this collaboration is enhanced by engagement across the value chain.  

“We need to engage as many relevant stakeholders as possible from an early stage,” says Slotvik. “This includes governments, shipowners, cargo owners, ports, energy suppliers and many others, all collaborating to find greener solutions for the Nordics. 

“The fuel transition is challenging and complex. However, green shipping corridors can be used to handle the barriers at a more manageable scale, involving and building business cases for key stakeholders on that specific route.” 

Safety is a prerequisite for the successful and timely introduction of zero-emission fuels

The Nordic Roadmap project focuses on ammonia, hydrogen and methanol as fuels, and these will be assessed in the initial green shipping corridor pilot studies. The safety reports delivered in the project have reviewed the fuels’ unique properties and their consequences for safety and operability, assessing suitable safety barriers to mitigate, for example, the toxicity of ammonia and the explosivity of hydrogen.  

“The development of international regulations by IMO is key to enable safe implementation of zero-emission fuels and to make the approval process more efficient. The Nordic Roadmap project has therefore prepared draft proposals aimed at accelerating the ongoing IMO process in developing guidelines for the use of ammonia,” says Linda Sigrid Hammer, Principal Consultant at DNV and safety task leader of the Nordic Roadmap project. “We cannot go green without doing it safely. Any accident involving a new ship fuel would, in addition to the risk to persons directly involved, be a serious setback for the use of this fuel for the whole industry.”

Strategic document as foundation for green shipping corridors

Once relevant partners are engaged and key technical and safety aspects have been addressed, the Nordic Roadmap project aims to create a strategic document – the Nordic Fuel Transition Roadmap – which will set out the course and propose specific goals and actions for the decarbonization of shipping in the Nordics.  

“The Nordic Fuel Transition Roadmap will be a strategic action plan with the main goal of zero-emission Nordic shipping by 2050,” says Slotvik. “It will draw on all of the technical knowledge about the future fuels and the practical experience from the pilot studies and the industry, as well as the inputs from governments and industry partners. The development of the roadmap is interactive and shall determine actions that must be taken to overcome key barriers and make the Nordics a first-mover region for the decarbonization of shipping.”

Solving the “chicken and egg” problem

The Nordic Fuel Transition Roadmap focuses on three specific barriers hindering the transition to zero-emission fuels. These are the lack of demand for green transport and high cost of zero-emission fuels, the low fuel availability and lack of bunkering infrastructure, and the technical immaturity and lack of specific safety regulations. Green shipping corridors can resolve these issues by creating a demand for a particular fuel, securing offtake commitments, and encouraging supply-side investment as well as the development of relevant infrastructure. 

“We have a ‘chicken and egg’ problem for the demand and supply of zero-emission fuels, where there is a lack of certainty and clear signals on both ends,” says Slotvik. “Green shipping corridors can help to solve this for a specific route by getting partners to sit around the same table, discuss the business case, and agree on a balanced and certain supply and demand. Critical for the realization of green shipping corridors will be to find ways to share risks and close the significant cost gap between zero-emission fuels and conventional fuels.”  

Government and other public authorities can play a key role in this. 

“A key question is how to design the financial support for closing the cost gap for first movers,” continues Slotvik. “Experience from green shipping corridors in Norway is that the public sector can play an important role in the enabling and phase-in period for the uptake of new zero-emission technologies in shipping.”

Green shipping corridors can facilitate first movers using zero-emission fuels

The Nordic Roadmap project has identified 81 potential green shipping corridors and shortlisted six promising routes in the Nordics. The project is now initiating the first three green shipping corridor pilot studies, focusing on hydrogen, ammonia, and methanol.   

“Green shipping corridors will be an important mechanism now in the beginning; to establish the necessary partnerships, to get the fuel infrastructure up and running in the key ports, to gain experience with new ship fuels and technologies, and to ensure well-developed safety regulations,” concludes Slotvik. “We want to demonstrate how this can be done and we hope that the success and learnings of these pilots can lead to the establishment of several green shipping corridors, eventually creating an environment where these fuels and the vessels that use them are the default option, while fossil fuels are confined to the past.” 

Taking green shipping corridors to a global level

The knowledge base gathered by the Nordic Roadmap project and all the delivered reports are freely available and can be used to increase the understanding of zero-emission fuels and aid the development of other green shipping corridors around the globe. The Nordics are also looking at potential corridors going out of the Nordics, for example linked to North-Western Europe and the Baltics. 

“Ultimately, the Nordic Roadmap wants to take action and accelerate shipping’s shift towards zero-emission fuels and vessels,” says Øyvind Endresen, Senior Principal Consultant at DNV and project manager of the Nordic Roadmap project. “We believe that green shipping corridors will kick-start the transition and further scale to green shipping networks or areas, and then, hopefully, a global uptake of zero-emission fuels.”  

The 2020s will be the decisive decade for shipping to achieve decarbonization ambitions, and the Nordic Roadmap project is helping the maritime industry to map the best course.

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Dorthe Alida Arntzen Slotvik

Dorthe Alida Arntzen Slotvik


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Linda Sigrid Hammer

Linda Sigrid Hammer

Principal Engineer

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Øyvind Endresen

Øyvind Endresen

Environmental Consultant

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