Norway – Norwegian export credit agency Eksfin is playing a major role in accelerating the ‘green shift’ at sea, providing loan guarantees approaching EUR 1 billion for the construction of 35 eco-friendly vessels over the last four years.
“We are now close to the milestone figure of NOK 10bn and will continue to pursue projects with a strong environmental profile reflecting the industry trend towards more sustainable operations,” said Eksfin CEO Tone Lunde Bakker.
This includes ‘Le Commandant Charcot’, the world’s most exclusive polar exploration cruise ship recently delivered to French cruise line PONANT by Norwegian shipbuilder VARD. The delivery of ‘Le Commandant Charcot’ by VARD Sviknes emphasizes Eksfin’s crucial role in project finance. Eksfin’s state-backed loan and risk assurances helped VARD win the PONANT contract.
PONANT, situated in Marseille, contributed a substantial portion of the contract position with its own funds, with Eksfin contributing the remaining funds in collaboration with French banks. The Eksfin loan was EUR 162.4 million, with risk guarantees totaling EUR 182.7 million.
Eksfin previously assisted in the financing of six PONANT expedition cruise ships built by VARD, but this seventh ship is unusual in that it is the world’s first hybrid-electric, LNG-powered vessel with icebreaking capability.
Technology good for the environment
When compared to conventional cruise ships, PONANT believes that using LNG will cut emissions of sulphur oxides (SOx), nitrogen oxides (NOx), and carbon dioxide (CO2) by 95 percent, 85 percent, and 25 percent, respectively. Using innovative features created by VARD’s specialized business groups, ‘Le Commandant Charcot’ is also intended for maximum energy efficiency and a small footprint. The ship’s full electrical system includes Corvus Energy’s cutting-edge battery technology.
The 245-passenger ship will be used on polar voyages to the Arctic and Antarctica by PONANT. Shipping activity in these far-flung locations is strictly regulated. The ‘Le Commandant Charcot’ has been certified by French classification society Bureau Veritas not only with PC2 polar ice class, but also with ‘Clean Ship’ and ‘Comfort Class’ status, in line with PONANT’s strong emphasis on environmental considerations across its activities, thanks to cutting-edge technologies that reduce not only environmental impact, but also noise and vibration while ensuring the hygienic operation.
Assisting with polar research
The research facilities on board ‘Le Commandant Charcot’ will let scientists to investigate and analyze water, air, ice, and biological variety at the extreme poles. The Geographic North Pole (90 degrees north), Northeast Greenland National Park, and the Svalbard archipelago in the Arctic, and the Bellingshausen Sea, Peter I and Charcot Islands, and the Larsen Ice Shelf in Antarctica will all be accessible.
Hurtigruten for hybrid cruise ships; ferry operators Norled, Boreal, and Fjord1 for diesel-electric, hydrogen-electric, and fully electric ferries; Color Line for the world’s largest hybrid cruise-ferry; fishing company Cetus for onshore power connection; and tanker operator Altera Shuttle Tanker for LPG tankers were among the companies that used Eksfin’s financing for green ship projects.