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New fuel, digitalization and autonomous ships:


New kinds of fuel and digitalization are currently key issues in the maritime industry. The increased focus on sustainability and efficient operations provides many benefits, but how safe are developments really? A container ship must be able to cope with bad weather and high waves. As a classification society, DNV is concerned about ensuring safety at sea.

Hans Anton Tvete is the head of maritime research at DNV, which is heavily involved in identifying and handling the various challenges facing the maritime industry.


"This is something we've always done, but this task is now far more complex," says Tvete, and explains:

"The complexity of traditional mechanical systems relates to physical limitations and the laws of nature, but today we must also take into account the complexity of integrated software-driven systems.  These are in some cases too difficult for humans to understand, so in order to observe and ensure that these systems are safe we have to develop new methods and tools."

Safety cannot be taken for granted

According to Tvete, two major changes will affect shipping in the coming decade: the energy transition we are currently in the midst of, and increased digitalization.

"I have the feeling that the maritime industry is mainly focusing on all the opportunities these provide, such as more room to improve the efficiency of operations, new business models, more transparency and access to new technology."

Tvete says it is uplifting that the industry is looking at all the opportunities brought by the enormous transformations. At the same time, he would like to see more focus on safety and risk assessment.

"This is our mandate as a classification society. DNV wants to contribute to new technology and new ways of doing business being implemented in a good, safe manner. It's easy to take this work for granted, but we don't do that," he says.


Hans Anton Tvete


Norway in the driving seat

Ever since the Viking era, Norway has been known as a forward-thinking and innovative shipping nation. Oil & gas, shipping and cruise ship operations have driven Norwegian innovation at sea. With more than 130 ferry links, Norway has also decided to take a pioneering role in the field of hydrogen-driven ferries and other vessels.

"New kinds of fuel are one of the most important things we are currently working on. The work of replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy sources is very important, and it's crucial that we make arrangements so the green shift can be carried out safely. When we ensure that fuels such as ammonia, biofuel and synthetic natural gas are introduced to the maritime industry, we work on everything from sustainability and safety to financial aspects, costs and availability. We also look at how various sectors are linked together and how the maritime industry can, for example, utilize offshore wind power," says Tvete.

Big waves

– A unique position

The maritime industry is currently focusing on the transition to new kinds of fuel. But this is not the only issue that Tvete's department is focusing on. Autonomous ships, digitalization and data-driven services are just as important parts of the new everyday life at sea.

"DNV has a unique position as we have both in-depth knowledge of digital solutions and automation and long experience of more traditional maritime challenges, such as how a ship should be built physically in order to cope with all kinds of wind and weather," he says.

"The increasing level of automation on board also makes it essential to understand the interaction between man and machine and the risks caused by a dilution of the responsibilities between them."

Being able to utilize the company's broad experience and expertise and at the same time be involved in developing new, modern solutions is one of the things that Tvete most appreciates about his job with DNV.

"Although we're particularly focused on improving safety at sea, we don't want to be any hindrance in any way. When working on the energy transition and digitalization, we look at opportunities and risk elements together with our customers. We also look at the opportunities that digitalization gives us to fulfil our mandate. We want to help the industry identify, handle and create confidence in these new ways of doing business," he says.

Read more about the work DNV does for the maritime industry here.