Norwegian roadmap for Research Infrastructure

Maritime technology

Maritime technology comprises technologies important to the development of all ocean industries, which are the maritime industry, aquaculture, fisheries, offshore oil and gas production, offshore renewable energy and new ocean industries. The area includes innovative use of new markets, technologies and business models by companies that own, operate, build and supply equipment and services to all types of vessels and installations designed for the utilisation of ocean space.

Research objectives

Maritime technology, which is of major importance to all ocean industries, is particularly important for Norway as a country with deep ties to the ocean. It is Norway’s objective to remain a leading ocean nation and to ensure that its ocean industries provide the most innovative, sustainable and environmentally friendly systems for the future.

Research in the field is designated a priority area in ​​the Government’s Long-term plan for research and higher education 2019–2028 (Report No 4 to the Storting (2018–2019)), and is intended to help increase value creation in the maritime industry and other ocean industries. Research efforts and the importance of maritime research infrastructure are clearly emphasised in the Government’s Updated Ocean Strategy from 2019 and in the Maritim21 strategy from 2016. The Portfolio Board for Oceans manages the Research Council’s targeted efforts on maritime research.

Increased competitiveness, improved restructuring capacity and better interaction and knowledge transfer between the R&D community and industry are the objectives, all to be achieved within sustainable frameworks. The interplay of theory, experimentation and numerical calculation has been important in maritime research, and is becoming increasingly essential for understanding new linkages and relationships.

To achieve these objectives, research is needed that gives rise to new competence and innovations in the thematic priority areas:

  • possibilities in the ocean industries
  • autonomous and remotely-operated vessels
  • digitalisation of the maritime industry
  • climate and environmentally friendly maritime operations
  • safety at sea
  • the Arctic and northern areas

These priority areas cover many areas of technology and science, both together and individually. Norway needs to build expertise and ownership in areas that are significant to further developing the industry and ensuring Norwegian competitiveness. Expertise is needed in traditional maritime fields such as vessel design, hydrodynamics, marine construction and production techniques, machinery and propulsion systems, marine cybernetics and control systems, system engineering and maritime economics and logistics. Expertise is also essential in enabling technologies such as automation, decision support, interaction, communication, navigation and new materials and production methods.

Existing research infrastructure

A number of marine technology research infrastructures exist across the country in the form of laboratories, test facilities and simulators.

The experimentation infrastructure at the Marine Technology Centre in Trondheim is of major importance to maritime technology development in all ocean industries. It includes five large laboratories whose operations complement one another to allow development under controlled conditions of all types of vessels, designs, structures and procedures to be used at sea. Simulations with full control over wind, waves and ocean currents provide unique testing conditions for models of floating or fixed objects at sea, whether they are ships, aquaculture installations or oil platforms. The maritime technology laboratories are located at Tyholt in Trondheim. Through the National Financing Initiative for Research Infrastructure, the Research Council has contributed funding for the first three phases of necessary upgrading of these laboratories.

In terms of basic research and development of computational tools, the basic research groups have benefited greatly from small hydrodynamic laboratories. These are found at the University of Oslo, University of Bergen, the Western University of Applied Sciences, the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) Ålesund and Stadt Towing Tank. Medium-sized laboratories are of great benefit where detailed measurements can be conducted in a cost-efficient manner. NTNU Ålesund also has other types, including related to ship simulators.

Ocean Space Field Laboratory Trondheimsfjorden was awarded funding under the National Financing Initiative for Research Infrastructure call in 2018, and is developing a field laboratory for research and development of autonomous vessels and underwater robots. The infrastructure will be instrumental for research in digitalisation and automation and to fully automate marine and maritime operations. It will also play an especially important role in the aquaculture and fisheries industry and to monitor and provide notifications about the marine environment.

Need for new infrastructure, upgrades and/or coordination

Norway has strong research groups in the area of marine and maritime technology. Both upgraded and new infrastructure will be important to maintain a strong international position in this area.

Infrastructure needs in maritime technology development concern laboratories for hydrodynamics, marine construction, strength-testing and machinery as well as increased laboratory flexibility and automation. The national research laboratories at the Marine Technology Centre in Trondheim remain in need of upgrading and renewal, and were given special emphasis in the Government’s Long-term plan for research and higher education 2015–2024 (Report No 4 to the Storting (2018–2019)).

The realisation of the Ocean Space Center, which will comprises several important maritime research infrastructures, will require significant investments over many years.

Restructuring of the Norwegian economy and technology development will entail new research goals, as given above. New opportunities in the ocean industries, autonomous and remote-controlled vessels, and digital transformation of the maritime industry will require greater research efforts.

The digital transformation of the maritime industry and greater autonomy present new research opportunities. Vessels will become equipped with countless instruments, as will the ocean space and coastal infrastructure. This presents opportunities for full-scale studies and the research will be more closely linked to innovation in the industrial sector. The same simulation models and algorithms are used in research and in testing and training simulators as on board ships. This development will require significant expansion of maritime e-infrastructure.

To succeed with the green transition of the maritime sector and achieve our climate targets, as well as boost Norwegian competitiveness, the technology must be safe to use with low risk of personal injury and damage to material assets. To promote the rapid development of new technological solutions, broad and interdisciplinary research infrastructures are required that ensure integrated knowledge about the safety and security of the new technology, thereby contributing to swift implementation and utilisation.

Interface with other areas

Maritime technology is of great importance to all the ocean industries, which in addition to the maritime industry include the petroleum industry, fisheries and aquaculture, renewable energy from the sea and other new ocean industries. Maritime technology is also essential to the development of platforms for measuring and observing the marine environment. Such platforms can make ocean monitoring more effective so that costs can be reduced and the scope and coverage area of observations can be increased.

Technology development on ships that can reduce greenhouse gas emissions will involve renewable energy and new fuels/energy carriers such as hydrogen and ammonia. This is related to the thematic area environmentally friendly energy.

RESEARCH INFRASTRUCTURES RELATED TO MARITIME TECHNOLOGY

Project

Status

MARINTEK – The Marine Technology Laboratories- Required Upgrading and Developments

Under establishment/in operation

OceanLab – Ocean Space Field Laboratory Trondheimsfjorden

Under establishment/in operation

OTHER RESEARCH INFRASTRUCTURES ON THE ROADMAP RELEVANT TO MARITIME TECHNOLOGY

Project

Status

E-INFRA ved UNINETT Sigma 2 – a national e-Infrastrucure for science

Under establishment/in operation

LoVe – Lofoten-Vesterålen cabled observatory

Under establishment/in operation

NORMAR – Norwegian Marine Robotics Facility

Funding period completed/in operation

OBLO – NOWERI Norwegian Offshore Wind Energy Research Infrastructure*

Funding period completed/in operation

* Infrastructures where the project period with Research Council funding has been concluded, or was scheduled to be concluded in 2019, do not have a separate project description on the roadmap. You will instead find a reference to the infrastructure's website or the Research Council's project bank.