Norway will design the world’s first zero emissions cargo ship. This will run on hydrogen fuel, and is set to chart the path towards a greener maritime sector for the shipping nation.

From hydrogen-powered vessels to waste management, Norway has leapt ahead in its climate innovations. The country is now in a “transition phase” to shift away from fossil fuels, and towards cleaner forms of energy, says Dr Per Christer Lund, Science and Technology Counsellor at Innovation Norway.

Could these innovations reach Southeast Asia? GovInsider spoke to Lund to find out how these innovations can make a difference in this region.

Carbon capture

The world is on a mission to reduce its carbon footprint. The ultimate goal? To reach net zero emissions, which means that countries must remove as much carbon dioxide as they produce.

Norway has “invested heavily” in a method known as carbon capture, Lund shares. It collects carbon dioxide from industrial processes, such as waste incineration or gas power stations, and injects it into permanent underground storage.

This method will “definitely” help lower global carbon emissions, says Lund. Norway has been pumping carbon underground into an offshore field since 1997. “The total amount of carbon dioxide that has been injected into this one single field is equivalent to the annual emission of Singapore,” he says.

Norway is keen to help other European countries with carbon capture. They could ship their carbon to Norway’s many natural oil and gas fields, which act as good stores, he explains.

He suggests that this collaboration can exist between Southeast Asian countries as well. The gas fields in Sumatra and the shallow waters off Malaysia’s coast in the South China Sea work well as potential carbon stores.

Experiments have begun. Two Japanese firms have partnered with Indonesia’s state-owned oil company PT Pertamina to trial a carbon capture scheme in Central Java, wrote Kyodo News. Innovation Norway is currently discussing options with Singapore’s National Climate Change Secretariat, Lund says.

Decarbonising transport

Norway has been looking at ways to decarbonise transport. Top on the priority list is the maritime industry, which contributes up to 12 per cent of global emissions, Lund notes. Its innovations hold promise for Singapore, a fellow shipping nation.

The first step is to green shipping’s fuel. Norway was an early adopter of liquefied natural gas for large ships, a cleaner form of fossil fuel which produces less carbon dioxide. “Everything from cruise ships to container ships” now run on this cleaner fuel, which has halved emissions, Lund shares.

Norway could partner with Singapore, one of the world’s largest ports for refuelling ships, he adds. The island-state has piloted supplying liquefied natural gas to the vessels that stop over, wrote the Maritime and Port Authority.

The next step is to electrify boats, Lund says. Smaller ships used for coastal shipping can switch to batteries, hydrogen or ammonia for power sources, he explains.

Norway is greening its land transport as well. It boasts the world’s highest ratio of electric vehicles, where around 50 per cent of all new vehicles are either hybrid-powered or fully electric. From 2025, citizens will no longer be able to buy fossil fuel cars.

The country’s sources of renewable energy have made its leaps in electric adoption possible, Lund notes. Over 95 per cent of their energy is produced by hydro-electric power, as reported by the International Hydropower Association.

Waste management and the circular economy

To implement sustainable waste management, there should be a shift from “linear thinking to circular thinking”, Lund believes. Instead of waste ending up in the incinerator, we should aim to recycle as much as we can.

Singapore is taking a step towards this, with its trial of a new method for recycling drink bottles. Citizens will pay a little more for their drink, but will receive a refund when they return the empty container.

Other countries such as Germany, Sweden and New Zealand already have similar systems. It has seen particular success in Norway, where 95 per cent of aluminium cans and 70 per cent of glass bottles are returned. Singapore aims to implement the programme by 2022, wrote its National Environment Agency.

Norway can also help with managing food waste, which can be turned into fertiliser or animal feed. Singapore currently incinerates up to 95 per cent of its food waste, which is a “waste of resource”, Lund says.

Singapore’s hawker centres don’t yet separate plastics from food waste, but this will soon change. From 2024, large restaurants and food factories will have to segregate their food waste for treatment, wrote the National Environment Agency. This may move Singapore closer to its goal of supplying 30 per cent of the food it needs by 2030, he says.

Collaboration

Norway is keen to borrow from Singapore’s expertise on climate tech, especially with its desalination and water treatment methods. “We need that as well,” he notes.

The partnership with Singapore will go beyond two countries. Lund sees Singapore as “a stepping stone into Southeast Asia”. Norway plans to work with the larger countries in the region to support their move towards sustainability.

Collaboration between regions will continue to be a strong tool in the global push towards a greener future. Singapore and Norway’s strong partnership will help to propel innovations in the region.