Erik Lanssen’s 80 million target

Erik Lanssen: If you run a 150 year old business, you have to think long term – and that’s just another way of saying ‘sustainably’ Erik Lanssen: If you run a 150 year old business, you have to think long term – and that’s just another way of saying ‘sustainably’

“My mission, my aim now, is to reduce Norway’s diesel consumption by 80 million litres,” said Erik Lanssen of Selfa Arctic.

“You might wonder where that figure has come from: well, for one thing it’s 1% of Norway’s total diesel consumption, but it’s also about the same as the fast ferry industry here.”

To put that in perspective, he added, five fast ferries consume about the same as 600 of Norway’s buses “so I think we’ve reached a point where we need a technological shift”. At this point he explained that while the traditional ferry segment, the slower variety, is gaining a lot of attention and has already committed itself to bringing its own contribution down, fast ferries are an entirely different proposition.

But, he believes he can help reshape the propulsion.

He might just be able to. Erik Lanssen is a well known figure in Norway, he describes himself as a “fifth generation boat builder” and is justifiably proud that his daughter, Christina, “will make the sixth”. Despite the tradition, he isn’t one to get stuck in his ways. While his business has been at the forefront of fishing and fishfarming vessels for the last couple of decades, he admitted that having reached the age of 62, with tens of millions of Euros worth of business behind him, he was “a little worn out... and it was time for a change – I wanted to do something that made a difference”.

He also added that the need to think broadly was prompted by the nature of the company. “Selfa Arctic, was started by my great – great grandfather... if you run a 150 year old business, you have to think long term – and that’s just another way of saying ‘sustainably’. It’s the same thing.”

“So, in 2008 we agreed on two things: firstly that we’d become a zero-emissions company and secondly, that we’d start to offer more environmentally friendly products to the market.”

That lead to Karoline, the world’s first fully electric fishing vessel. This has been hailed as a ‘breakthrough’ and certainly has made a number of people sit up and take notice of the potential for hybrids, even in less obvious market segments. “When we sailed out of Trondheim with this boat, it didn’t make a sound. It was one of the best moments of my life.” And, he added, since its launch, “the hybrid system hasn’t had one bit of downtime... in fact, it’s been a fantastic experience for us”. The boat is also going to become a testbed for the new hydrogen fuel systems presently gaining ground.

It is, as Erik Lanssen said, important “to focus on the low hanging fruit” in order to get the vessels into the market where they can be properly evaluated.

He concluded that everything is moving much faster than even he expected: another few years “will see the Trondheim Fjord reach zero emissions”, and added: “It might even see autonomous vessels.”

By Stevie Knight

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