Norwegian shipping firm Viridis Bulk Carriers, along with seven consortium partners, has secured development funding of Nkr13.75m ($1.53m) to establish a sustainable short sea bulk transportation service.

The project has received financial aid from the Norwegian Pilot-E programme, a partnership between the Norwegian Research Council, Innovation Norway and Enova.

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Norwegian Pilot-E aims to back ‘innovative’ maritime projects from their initial conception to full implementation.

Viridis Bulk Carriers’ initiative will be carried out as part of the FlexBulk – NH3 Power project and include developments related to cargo, vessels and fuel logistics.

The company will assess all cargo flows to select appropriate synergies to improve the trading of ships.

These works will be carried out in partnership with Elkem, Vestkorn, Saltimport, Yara, Franzefoss Minerals, Viken AT Market and Biomar.

Through business model innovation, the project will focus on making zero-emission solutions commercially feasible and optimising ship utilisation.

Ocean Hyway Cluster innovation manager Kristin Svardal said: “The shift to a more sustainable future requires collaboration.

“Flexbulk is a unique example, with broad commitment from seven client partners who will achieve significant synergies between them.

“Combined with Viridis Bulk Carries, an innovative shipping company, they are positioned to lead the green shift in short sea shipping.

“Ocean Hyway Cluster is proud to be part of this project, fulfilling our mission to develop carbon-free hydrogen-based fuels for shipping.”

The vessels will have an operational range and functional capabilities to manage various types and volumes of cargo.

According to Viridis Bulk Carriers, the initial shipbuilding orders are projected to come in by the end of next year, with deliveries beginning in 2024 or 2025.

The Flexbulk – NH3 Power project is similar to the Ammonia fuel bunkering network project, which secured Nkr89m from the Norwegian Green Platform program earlier this year.

In September, Norway-based research firm Sintef revealed plans to investigate the use of ammonia as a zero-emission fuel for the shipping sector.