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Q TECHNICAL PAPER


No go-slow in ECAs


AIS data suggests that ships sailing in the North American ECA are not slowing down


when switching to more expensive fuels Words: Julia Schaumeier et al, of the Energy Institute, University College London


T


he Automated Identification System (AIS) for collision avoidance at sea has been around since


2004. The broadcast signals, which contain a vessel’s location, speed and heading, escape to space and have since 2008 been harvested by satellites. Around the time of the third greenhouse gas study, commis- sioned by the IMO in 2014, researchers started to explore this data on a global scale to extract


fine-grained inventories of shipping movements. Better and faster computing technology made it possible to handle this very large dataset – depending on speed and manoeuvre, a vessel fitted with an AIS transponder can send a message every two seconds. Previously, only computing


experts could manipulate such volumes of data, but nowadays there is a lot of good and free software available to make life easier for the rest of us. In this article, we want to share the


observations we made when analysing AIS data in the North America Emission Control Area (ECA), which came into effect on 1 August 2012.


Background


A significant amount of global greenhouse gases and air pollutants comes from interna- tional shipping (2.2% CO2


, 12%


SOx, 13% NOx). In an effort to reduce emissions from ships in sensitive coastal areas, the IMO introduced ECAs in four regions:


the Baltic Sea (2006), North Sea (2007), North American (2012) and United States Caribbean Sea areas (2014). Since 1 January 2015, as set out in MARPOL Annex VI, the fuel used in these areas must contain no more than 0.1 mass percentage (% m/m) of sulphur. Alternatively vessels can be fitted with scrubbers: devices that remove the sulphur content from the exhaust gas. Whichever solution is chosen to comply with the regulations, it is going to be costly.


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