Washington Department of Commerce and DNV GL collaborate to take Maritime Blue beyond national borders

Washington Department of Commerce and DNV GL collaborate to take Maritime Blue beyond national borders
From left: Washington Transportation Secretary Roger Millar, Assistant Secretary for the Washington State Ferries Division Amy Scarton, and Kåre Aas, Norwegian ambassador to the United States, talk to members of the media aboard the Tacoma. (Office of the Governor photo)

A Norwegian delegation, including representatives from government, industry, research, and cluster organizations visited Washington State to share best practices on cluster formation and electrification in support the state’s sustainable maritime industry strategy known as Washington Maritime Blue.

Converting Washington State Ferries to electric propulsion will put the fleet on the cutting edge of maritime clean technology. This pursuit is not just novel in the U.S. but is drawing international attention, in particular from Norway, a country recognized as a leader in sustainable maritime technology. So, when Washington state officials welcomed a delegation from Norway this month to share and learn from the acknowledged global leaders in the maritime clean-tech sector, DNV GL was there to promote the collaboration of the groups and share its insights.  

Using insight to promote the maritime cluster
As the initiator of the Green Coastal Shipping Program - the Norwegian public-private partnership founded in 2015- DNV GL shared lessons learned on the success factors for early markets to establish an effective green shift, as well as “cluster” models for collaboration. The company also provided insights from its role as the Technical Advisor to the NOx Fund, a model public-private policy mechanism that has funded many of the emission reducing innovations.  

The Washington Maritime Blue initiative builds upon a similar vision and framework as the Norwegian models. Led by the Washington State Department of Commerce (Commerce), the initiative aims to make Washington State home to the nation’s most sustainable maritime industry by 2050 and bring together industry, workforce, government, labor, technology, research, financial and education sectors into a unified, sustainable “maritime cluster.” When the initiative was launched earlier this year, DNV GL was engaged by Commerce to facilitate and provide expertise to the project.  

“We are looking forward to building a collaborative partnership between the Norwegian Maritime Clean Tech and our growing Washington Maritime Blue clusters.  As we develop into a center of excellence for maritime innovation these types of relationships are critical for knowledge and tech transfer for growth,” said Joshua Berger, the Governor’s Sector Lead and Director of Economic Development for Maritime. “Based on their successful track record.  

DNV GL can clearly support us and our stakeholders as we move forward in a coordinated and visible process.”

Maritime Blue Engine room
One of the four main engines that help propel the MV Tacoma ferry. When converted to a hybrid system two of the four engine will be taken out of service and 100 tons of batteries will be added (photo provided by Washington State Governor’s Office)

An accelerated demonstration project for Ferry Electrification 
Washington State Ferries plans to convert its largest diesel-powered ferries to hybrid electric, leading the way for electrification of the entire fleet. The electrification program, an accelerated demonstration project of Washington Maritime Blue, will significantly cut emissions, improve reliability, save money and virtually eliminate the engine noise that can disturb marine wildlife such as orcas.  

During the visit, the delegation, including Norwegian Ambassador to the U.S. Kåre Aas, toured the ferry Tacoma and discussed the plans under Gov. Jay Inslee’s new Washington Maritime Blue initiative to bring the fleet into the era of sustainable, low-carbon and low-cost operations.  

With extensive experience in maritime battery technology and shore side charging, DNV GL shared its recommendations for a holistic approach to establish onshore “microgrid” charging stations with battery storage systems for optimized infrastructure for ferry electrification. Along with other leading Norway delegate companies and organizations, the insights shared will help to establish Washington state’s leadership role in U.S. maritime and energy sustainability.  

“Bringing the Norwegian delegation to Washington marks a significant step forward for Washington Maritime Blue and its transition to a cluster organization,” said Freddy Friberg, Regional Manager for DNV GL – Maritime Americas. “These collaborations bring invaluable insights on how maritime clusters can drive the innovation necessary for success.” 

Key participants in the collaboration event included the Washington State Departments of Transportation and Ferries, Commerce, Port of Seattle, NCE Maritime Clean Tech Cluster, the Norwegian Maritime Authority, Norwegian Embassy, and industry leaders, including DNV GL and the Confederation of Norwegian Enterprises.