Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings: Methanol Ready

Norwegian Viva

In light of their commitment to pursue net zero (emissions) by 2050, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NCLH) recognizes that the design decisions made today will significantly impact its ability to transition to the future, Jessica John, vice president of investor relations, ESG, for Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, told Cruise Industry News.

“Though we do not have all the answers today and uncertainties remain about alternative fuels, we recognize there is also risk in waiting for the answers to be clear,” she said. “The ships on order and being delivered now are expected to be around in 2050, which means the design must be flexible to support the transition to a decarbonized future.”

With Norwegian Cruise Line newbuilds for 2027 and 2028 modified and reconfigured to be methanol ready, John explained: “We made significant investments in lengthening the final two Prima class vessels in addition to other changes to accommodate space for methanol-related machinery and equipment.

“The modifications include specific pipes, valves, bilge systems bunker stations and more for methanol. While additional modifications will be needed in the future to fully enable the use of methanol on these ships, this represents an important step forward in pursuit of net zero greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by 2050.”

In addition, in 2022, NCLH began assessing the feasibility of retrofitting existing engines to operate with dual fuels – diesel and methanol. The initial findings, according to John, was that a conversion of mechanical, electrical and automation equipment would be required, including creating space by converting cabins into methanol bunker stations, as well as existing tanks into methanol storage tanks. She said that the fuel preparation space would also need to be redesigned with changes in the mechanical ventilation, pipes, electrical cabling and more.

“By investing in this optionality,” John added, “we also signal to the market that there will be demand for a fuel that we believe has the potential to be a scaled, long-term solutions.”

Efficiency Gains

NCLH’s ongoing investments in systems technologies and operational improvements have enabled the company to reduce the fuel consumption across the fleet per capacity day by approximately 14 percent from 2008 to 2022, John explained. As further investments for efficiencies are made in the existing fleet and new more fuel-efficient vessels enter service, the fuel consumption rate and GHG intensity is expected to further decrease.

“The first alternative fuel is energy efficiency, and data science and AI modelling are the foundation for our energy efficiency program,” she said. “By providing the most meaningful data to our ships at sea, we can find additional ways to drive operational efficiencies. This will also be the basis for our continuous monitoring of systems and investments moving forward.”

One of most successful programs implemented on the ships to date has been waste heat recovery (WHR), according to John, who said the typical payback period is just over one year. To date, more than half the fleet is equipped with WHR, and plans call for having the entire fleet outfitted by 2027.

Another successful lever, she said, is the upgrading of existing HVAC systems, with air conditioning and heating being the second most energy-intensive system on ships after propulsion, requiring about 15 percent of a ship’s total electrical load.

Each ship has a shipboard energy efficiency management plan (SEEMP), the primary objective of which is to improve the overall operating efficiency of the ship by implementing optimized methods for energy and fuel savings.

Decreasing Consumption

“Broadly speaking, when a new Norwegian Cruise Line vessel is introduced to the fleet, its energy efficiency investments result in an approximately 1 percent decrease in annualized fuel consumption per capacity day for the entire fleet,” John pointed out.

“We continuously seek and invest in new technologies and innovations that will allow us to improve our environmental performance, both for our existing ships and the new ships we have on order.

“A great example of technology that is being deployed on existing ships and on every newbuild,” she added, “is shore power capability. While still limited, the number of ports offering shore power is increasing, and we are highly supportive of this expansion and are actively partnering with key ports to accelerate the use of this technology.”

Other initiatives include itinerary and voyage planning.

“As we add more itineraries around the world, we also work behind the scenes to find the most fuel-efficient routes, and we optimize itineraries by analyzing currents, time at sea and the most efficient port selection.

“We have also begun shifting itineraries to longer, open-jaw voyages. Not only do these itineraries reduce emissions, they also increase guest satisfaction with longer stays in ports.”

Excerpt from the Cruise Industry News Quarterly Magazine Fall 2023

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