Socially responsible shippers will have far greener shipping options as the world’s oceans go green, or greener, over the next few years. Industry leaders are racing to incorporate sustainable shipping technology into fleets to comply with regulations mandated by the International Maritime Organizations (IMO), the United Nations agency responsible for ocean shipping and clean oceans. Currently, more than 90 percent of global trade is transported by sea with the industry generating approximately 3 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Agency predictions show that without regulation, shipping emissions could skyrocket 50 percent to 250 percent by 2050.
Regional regulation of sulfur oxides (SOx) rolled out this past January with the adoption of MARPOL Annex VI for the prevention of air pollution from ships. Ships trading in Emission Control Areas (ECA), including Canada, the United States and northern Europe, made the costly switch from fuel with 1 percent sulfur content to 0.1 percent or less, to combat acid rain and improve air quality. The website of French shipping giant CMA CGM states the change in fuel costs more than $100 million every year, inflating expenditure.
In 2016, regulations around nitrous oxide (NOx) kick in, with carbon dioxide (CO2) regulations arriving in 2018. Water ballast management systems will also be regulated, though dates have not been set. Managing water ballast prevents disruption of marine ecosystems by non-native species such as zebra mussels, introduced to the Great Lakes from Europe’s Black Sea by ship, resulting in displacement of native species from Canada to Mexico. The IMO emissions regulations follow implementation of mandatory 2013 Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) for new ships and the Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan (SEEMP) for all ships.
Emerging Environmental Ships
Most companies have been slow steaming, traveling at 21 knots per hour versus design speed, to reduce emissions and fuel consumption. Proactive companies have been designing the sea’s most efficient slow steamers.
CMA CGM introduced the CMA CGM Kerguelen, optimized for slow steaming. One of the largest container ships in the world (larger than the Empire State Building, without antennas, according to a 2015 media release), it sails between Europe and Asia powered by an engine that reduces use of fuel by 3 percent and oil by 25 percent. Shipping customers can design shipments with low carbon footprints, using CMA CGM’s Eco-Calculator, based on departures, arrivals, freight volume, fuel consumption and vessel speed.
Other companies have turned away from diesel fuel to cleaner burning liquefied natural gas (LNG). American West Coast ship builder General Dynamics NASSCO recently launched the Issa Bella, the world’s first LNG-powered containership for TOTE, a transportation and logistics company. A second Marlin class ship will be delivered in 2016, and will sail from Florida to Puerto Rico.
NASSCO states that compared to current vessels in Puerto Rican trade, Marlin vessels reduce emissions of SOx by 97 percent, NOx by 60 percent and CO2 by 72 percent. Parker Larson, NASSCO’s director of Commercial Programs, says “LNG is an attractive solution for stringent environmental regulations.” TOTE is the first North American company to build LNG ships and convert its fleet from diesel to LNG, which companies sometimes shy away from due to lack of infrastructure. However, Larson says that with the Marlin class ships, “TOTE has proven this can be done.”
LNG technology will spread as China builds and exports LNG powered vessels, says David Wosicki, chairman of joint U.S.-Sino Hebei SMART Cryogenic Technology Co. Ltd., which custom engineers LNG solutions for global transportation companies. Wosicki says in China, “large companies are being encouraged to build the boats and refilling stations and that’s what they are doing in Tianjin. When the boats are built, the infrastructure will be covered.” Wosicki exports out of the Port of Tianjin and says “boats (were) starting to leave” just days after the massive explosion in a dangerous goods warehouse rocked areas near the port.
Demand for environmental shipping in Asia is high. Barbara Yeninas, spokeswoman for Evergreen Line, says that “environmental protection is a growing concern for cargo owners.” On Aug. 10, Evergreen Group ordered 10 2,800 TEU Class B-type vessels for intra-Asia trade. The new ships enable Evergreen to “help our customers reduce impact on the natural environment in their supply chains,” according to Yeninas. Built by CSBC Corp., the ships include many eco-technologies, including Sea-Sword Bow (SSB) technology, which reduces fuel consumption up to 10 percent, giving “the vessel good transit through waves, which pass by without breaking on the hull.” The ships also “comply with IMO standards for low sulfur fuel and NOx emissions.”
With impending regulations and global competition for sustainable solutions, it’s clear that the tide is rising for the use of green ocean shipping tech.