Hurtigruten has announced plans to move towards carbon neutrality by utilising the unlikeliest of energy sources; biogas produced from the carcases and offcuts that are a by-product of commercial fishing.

“What others see as a problem, we see as a resource and a solution,” the company’s CEO Daniel Skjeldam, told AFP.

“By introducing biogas as fuel for cruise ships, Hurtigruten will be the first cruise company to power ships with fossil-free fuel.”

Hurtigruten a pioneer in using liquefied biogas produced from fishing waste

Biogas comprises carbon dioxide, methane and hydrogen sulphide and is produced when organic matter breaks down without oxygen. This gas can then be purified and liquefied.

The company, which is based in Tromso, Norway, said it would be the first cruise operator to use liquefied biogas (LBG), a fossil-free and renewable fuel.

The company offers cruises to the Arctic and Antarctica as well as trips along the Norwegian coast.

It said there had already been limited experiments with powering vehicles with LBG, with some buses in Norway being powered by the eco-friendly fuel.

Hurtigruten said it was aiming to operate at least six of its cruise vessels by a combination of LBG, liquefied natural gas and large battery packs.

“While competitors are running on cheap, polluting heavy fuel oil, our ships will literally be powered by nature,” Skjeldam said in a statement. “Biogas is the greenest fuel in shipping, and (its use in cruise ships) will be a huge advantage for the environment. We would love other cruise companies to follow.”

The company is aiming to be completely carbon neutral by 2050 and says the industry as a whole must change.

Scandinavia leading the way in environmentally friendly shipping

Norway has begun to crack down on emissions from cruise ships and ferries operating in its world heritage listed fjords and has set a target of 2026 for these vessels to be zero emissions.

Other Scandinavian shipping companies have also incorporated renewable energy to power ships. Finnish company Viking Line’s M/S Viking Grace passenger ship, for instance, uses a specially developed cylindrical rotor sail which enables it to run on wind power on trips between Finland and Sweden.

Two Norwegian companies have also joined forces to develop an automated, all-electric container ship that could potentially replace the work of 40,000 diesel truck trips each year.