Current estimates indicate that shipping’s share of global CO2 emissions could increase to 20-30 per cent by 2050. With 90 per cent of global trade carried by sea, this is an issue that cannot be sidestepped.
While the emissions
debate is beneficial for all in terms of reducing the environmental impact
, it is sometimes hard to see the plethora of solutions being proposed as anything other than a cost that the shipping industry
must bear, with little financial benefit.
There are a number of measures that are currently being trialled or introduced more widely, however, that have the potential to achieve tangible commercial benefits and the win/win situation that will reduce costs
and limit damage to the environment.
to reduce fuel consumption through improvements in engine efficiency
and reducing hull drag is one measure. Another is changes in operational procedures, such as optimising vessel speed – or 'slow steaming’. Based on knowledge of environmental conditions, including wind, wave and current, the speed profile of the voyage can be tailored to ensure that the ship arrives at the destination just in time to be loaded or unloaded.
While this strategy could be extremely effective, there is the need for all parties in the logistics chain to understand the issues involved and ensure that there is suitable shore-based infrastructure to service ships as they arrive. 'Slow steaming’ certainly has its benefits, but there are downsides too. If we accept that slow steaming is here to stay, will we need extra ships to cater for trade growth? Should new ships be designed with slow steaming in mind in order to optimise their efficiency? These are complex questions that still need to be addressed.
Shipboard Energy Efficiency Management Plan
The International Maritime Organisation has established a mechanism for a company and/or a ship to improve the energy efficiency of a ship’s operation called the Shipboard Energy Efficiency Management Plan (SEEMP). At present it is mandatory for a ship to carry its SEEMP, but there is no requirement to comply with it. Many operators are already pursuing this initiative as market forces make it beneficial to do so, however, as the culture changes and the importance of energy efficiency becomes more widely accepted, the SEEMP will become an increasingly valuable tool.
In order for the SEEMP to be effective, it is essential to have a performance baseline in place that provides the feedback that can be used to help learn and improve. By measuring, recording and analysing good quality data it is possible to break down the overall performance into individual components (engine, propeller, hull performance), remove any variables, identify where efficiency losses are being introduced into the system and react accordingly. With access to up to date, accurate, performance data, maintenance and cleaning, for example, can be carried out at the optimum time to ensure that energy usage is maintained at the lowest possible rate. BMT provides such solutions and one ship saved approximately seven tonnes of fuel per day after deploying such technology, which recommended that the ship had a hull clean ahead of schedule.
Success also depends on the buy-in of the crews using the new technology or deploying new working practices
. As so often happens when implementing change, a cultural shift is required to ensure that the best use is made of the improvements that are available. Some crews will be proactive and engage as a matter of course while some will need a form of incentivisation. When there are examples of two very similar ships running two very similar routes with very different performance the only real variable is the crew. It is hardly surprising that operators are beginning to give their crews’ bonuses based on improvements in fuel consumption and related environmental aspects.
The final element of deploying a comprehensive energy management strategy is having an understanding of how the carbon markets work. The shipping industry is going to be charged for its carbon emissions
. Whether it is a bunker fuel levy tied to shipping fuel efficiency measures such as that proposed by the World Shipping Council (WSC), regional emissions trading
or another of the many proposed schemes, having an appreciation of the carbon market will prove invaluable to any organisation in the shipping industry. BMT Group’s experience in working on sustainability projects with cruise lines and other major shipping organisations has highlighted the impact internalising carbon costs may have, and how poorly understood this is by the industry at large.
There are certainly major environmental and commercial benefits in achieving greater energy efficiency and making shipping 'greener’. Shipping lines and major shipping organisations are beginning to recognise this, but we are still in the early stages of the process. For these new initiatives to be successful in the long term more needs to be done to measure baseline performance of ships and to change operational procedures to improve performance. There also needs to be better awareness of new legislation and a shift in culture to promote the importance of fuel economy and environmental issues. We also need to embrace research and development in new technologies, such as alternative fuels, to help them become commercially viable propositions.
Only then can shipping start to become truly energy efficient.
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