The Norwegian Public Roads Administration (NPRA) has signed a contract with Torghatten Nord to operate hydrogen ferries between Bodø and Lofoten from 2025.

The work to be done up to the first ferry trip will be of great significance in Norway and the world, and provide business opportunities locally.

The contract is worth NOK 4,979,344,000 – NOK 4.9 billion.

Bodø–Røst–Værøy–Moskenes is Norway's longest national road ferry connection, and also one of the longest connections in general. © NVDB, Geovekst, kommunene og Open Street Map contributors (utenfor Norge)

NPRA: “One step further”

"We are pleased that the tender has attracted so much interest and delighted to be cooperating with a reliable and well-known operator with extensive experience," says Director of Ferry Management Anders Sæternes of the NPRA.

The NPRA has previously helped introduce the use of natural gas (LNG), battery solutions and hydrogen as energy sources in the maritime sector.

"Now we have taken this one step further, and are using hydrogen on a large scale. We have introduced requirements to ensure that hydrogen ferries will be at least as stable as diesel and gas ferries in terms of operation," he adds.

Torghatten Nord: “World class climate project”

Up to the start of operations on 1 October 2025, Torghatten Nord will be building two new hydrogen vessels. The existing main vessels delivered in 2012 will be converted from natural gas (LNG) to low-emission solutions.

"I am proud that Torghatten Nord is going to develop and operate hydrogen ferries on Norway's longest and most weather-exposed ferry connection. We will now be responsible for a world-class climate project that opens up concrete and exciting opportunities for green sea transport globally, new industry in Norway, and local business development. But all our groundbreaking work must be based on safety, operational stability and good travel comfort for our passengers," says CEO of Torghatten Nord, Torkild Torkildsen.

Torghatten Nord points out that the pioneering work now being started to develop and operate hydrogen ferries will have ripple effects for the Norwegian hydrogen industry, the maritime industry and for Lofoten as a tourism destination.

“There is much focus on hydrogen now, but no-one to sell it to. We will be the first major buyer of hydrogen in Norway, thanks to the decisions of the NPRA and the Government' climate policy. This also provides significant opportunities for the shipbuilding and ship equipment industry to take part in the development of competence in the field of using of hydrogen as an energy source. For tourism, the hydrogen ferries will also be a unique opportunity to take the investments in tourism and the international brand of Lofoten one step further”, Torkildsen adds.

Torghatten Nord is also aware that the reliability of the ferries beyond the summer season means a lot to the local population and the fishing industry.

"We will never forget that this is the lifeblood of people and the fishing industry at Værøy and Røst. Therefore, the new ferries must be able to run on alternative fuels, and we have spare ferries of good quality," says Torkildsen.

Facts about the contract and the ferry connection

  • The ferry connection will have significantly increased capacity. The increase in capacity at the start of operations under the new contract in 2025 will be 60 per cent for passengers and 40 per cent for passenger car units.
  • Bodø–Røst–Værøy–Moskenes is Norway's longest national road ferry connection, and also one of the longest connections in general.
  • Torghatten Nord will be operating the ferry connection for 15 years, from 2025 to 2040.

As an additional requirement for operational reliability, the hydrogen ferries must also be able to use other fuels. It is required that at least 85 per cent of the energy consumption is derived from hydrogen for the two vessels running all year round. Hydrogen must be produced in a way that emits low amounts of greenhouse gases.

  • The supplementary vessels must have zero- or low-emission solutions such as biodiesel, biogas, electricity, hydrogen or a combination of these.
  • The new ferries will reduce CO2 emissions on the Vestfjord connection by 26,500 tonnes annually compared to today's ferries, which operate on natural gas (LNG). This corresponds to the annual emissions from 13,000 diesel cars.

In collaboration with Norwegian Ship Design in Førde, Torghatten Nord has developed an interesting and future-oriented vessel design for the new hydrogen ferries.