GREENER SHIPPING 28 | telegraph | nautilusint.org
| September 2011
Think smart to save fuel
committed to reducing CO2 emissions by 30% within 20 years, we all need to come up with some good ideas...
With the global shipping industry now N
It’s offi cial: the shipping industry is going to clean up its act. As reported
in the Telegraph last month, the International Maritime Organisa- tion has fi nally agreed measures to cut greenhouse gas emissions from the world merchant fl eet. Not before time… We all know
that, per tonne kilometre trav- elled, shipping by sea is a greener alternative than air or land freight, but the fact remains that the sheer size of the world’s merchant shipping fl eet makes it a more signifi cant polluter than other forms of commercial transport.
Research published last month
in the Sunday Times newspaper showed that, if the world’s ship- ping fl eet were a country, it would be the fi fth-biggest polluter in the world, producing more carbon dioxide emissions than Japan or Germany.
It is clear that CO2 reduction needs to be addressed at a glo-
bal level, and there was a break- through at the IMO marine envi- ronment protection committee in July this year. Despite opposi- tion from China and Saudi Arabia, members voted to address the problem on two fronts. Newly-
built ships will have to conform to the IMO Energy Effi ciency Design Index, and all vessels will have to follow the Ship Energy Effi ciency Management Plan. The regulations will be intro-
duced as amendments to the MARPOL convention and are
expected to come into force in January 2013. They will apply to all ships of 400gt and above, and the
aim is to cut CO2 emissions from shipping by up to 30% within the next 20 years.
So far so good, but assuming
the industry will continue to be responsible for moving 90% of the world’s goods, how exactly are we going to meet the target? As always, the advice on reduc- ing emissions falls into two main categories: use less fuel and fi nd alternative ways of generating power.
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Saving fuel It makes sense that if you burn less fuel, you will have fewer emissions. The key principle here is energy effi ciency: make sure you’re getting the most from the fuel you burn, as we do when we insulate our homes to keep the heat in. Using modern engines is a good start, and these are usually more energy effi cient than old ones and get the same result from less fuel.
Smart voyage planning can
make a surprisingly big differ- ence. Allowing more time for the journey will enable a vessel to travel at a reduced speed (‘slow steaming’), which uses less fuel per mile than travelling quickly. The IMO has estimated that a 10% reduction in speed would result in a 23.3% drop in emissions across the global fl eet. We can also use good planning to avoid waste, as in the tanker sector’s ‘Virtual Arrival’ initiative, which aims to stop vessels hurrying at full speed to ports that aren’t ready to receive them and then burning fuel in port while they wait. Virtual Arrival improves communication between a ves- sel and its destination port so the vessel can slow down mid-voyage and arrive only when the port is ready.
Ship design can play a part too, as the more easily a vessel slips through the waves, the less hard the engine has to work. Low-fric- tion hull paint is a recent innova- tion in this area, as adopted this year by the Japanese fi rm MOL on its newbuild car carriers.
Above: The BBC SkySails, one of the vessels now using a towing kite to contribute to its propulsion Picture: SkySails Left: An artist’s impression of the Magnuss Voss system, which plans to put wind-powered generators on a ship’s deck ‒ with the aim of reducing fuel consumption by up to 50% Picture: Magnuss
Alternative power generation Cutting back is one thing, but it would be better for the environ-
ment if we didn’t have to burn CO2- generating fossil fuels (oil, gas or coal) in the fi rst place. There has been a huge amount of research into ‘green’ or ‘renewable’ power generation in recent years, but no single method of generation has emerged as a replacement for fossil fuels. Instead, it is currently accepted that we need to look at a range of methods, each one con- tributing a certain amount of the power we need.
Some of these techniques
work particularly well at a micro level, such as solar panels for heating household water. But we are also seeing them scaled up for national power generation, as with the vast offshore windfarms now under construction. States in the European Union have com- mitted to generating 20% of their electricity by renewable methods by 2020.
In the shipping industry, green
power generation needs to oper- ate on a vessel-by-vessel basis, and there are some interesting ideas out there. Quite well-known now is the Skysails towing kite – devel- oped in Germany – which is fi red into the air from the bow of a ship and uses the steady wind at the altitude of 100m-300m to con- tribute to the vessel’s propulsion. The towing kite aims to reduce a ship’s annual fuel consump- tion by 10%-35%, and is currently being trialled on a number of dif- ferent vessel-types worldwide. Another emerging invention is the US-based Magnuss Voss,
which puts wind-powered gener- ators in funnel-like cylinders on a ship’s deck and claims to reduce fuel consumption by up to 50%. And there has been great interest in a shipboard wave-power device developed by Alistair Shepherd of Southampton University. The device uses the motion of the ship to generate electricity, but is not immersed in water, so it over- comes the problems of sea dam- age that have affected previous wave power generators.
Achieving the IMO target There is not room here to explore all the possible techniques for
cutting CO2 emissions from shipping, but even in this brief overview, we have seen that there are many good ideas out there. The problem is that it’s still early days for many of the fuel-saving techniques and alternative power devices. If we are really going to reduce emissions by 30% within the next 20 years, the pace of change needs to increase, and more large companies need to lead the way. The Telegraph will be closely
following the industry’s efforts to reduce its emissions in the com- ing years, and we welcome reports from readers about this proc- ess. If your company is adopting some of the new fuel-saving ideas or alternative power generators, please send us a photo and let us know how the new initiatives are working on your vessel. With your help, we hope to be able to highlight good practice and encourage the rest of the indus- try to strive harder to meet the IMO target.
The Virtual Arrival initiative might well reduce stress as well as fuel emissions... Picture: Intertanko/OCIMF
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