Emissions control -Multiple choices ahead

With 1st January, 2020 low sulfur fuel cap fast approaching, the shipping industry is being warned to be prepared to act by the middle of next year.

No matter what road a shipowner decides to go down to meet the cap and the lower emissions target further down the line, there will be fundamental changes needed in the choice of fuel, lubes and possibly the power source itself. There is no doubt that there will be a significant cost involved, whatever the choice.

There maybe some who will just sit back and do nothing in the hope of not getting caught. However, this course of inaction will run the risk of a significant fine and possible vessel detention, which could result in a charter being cancelled.

In DNV GL’s latest Maritime Forecast to 2050, published last month, the class society explained its ‘Low Carbon Pathways’ model, which formed the basis of the report. This model looks at the possible uptake of a wide range of energy efficiency solutions, alternative fuels and other emissions reducing technologies, based on investment decisions and forthcoming regulations.

Energy use and emissions will depend on the availability of technical solutions applicable to each segment, their emission reduction potential and rate of uptake.

Modelled levels of uptake depend on the expected payback time for each technology and fuel, the shipowners’ investment levels and on regulations requiring specific technologies or specifying general levels of energy efficiency and carbon intensity, DNV GL said.

The class society listed the forecast the technology impact and fuel options on carbon and energy efficiency in tabular form, reproduced above right.

There are many different fuels being touted around as the panacea to attaining the sulfur cap and the ambitious emissions reductions the IMO has set for 2050 and beyond.

Of course, it very much depends on the ship type, size and its trading pattern which solution will benefit the operator most. For the tanker sector, at present there are three major solutions to choose from - distillates, LNG and fitting scrubbers, thus sticking with HFO.

There are others, such as LPG, methanol, biofuels, hydrogen, batteries, renewables assisted power and even nuclear has been suggested. However, most of the others tend to be applicable to the more specialist ships, ie LPG for LPG carriers, methanol for a methanol carrier, etc.

For example, WinGD’s Robert Stiefel told Tanker Operator at SMM that LNG as a fuel was always going to be cheaper than LPG. He also said that as Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) collected in tanks on deck was used as fuel on shuttle tankers, so the gas has potential for large crude carriers going forward, especially for those that might be fitted with dual-fuel engines, giving them the option to burn LNG or distillates.

DNV GL said that the cost associated with the machinery, as well as the projected fuel price and availability worldwide, especially for tramp ships, will be the key barriers when selecting the type of fuel to be used.

As well as looking into its crystal ball, the class society has introduced what it calls a new perspective on alternative fuels - Alternative Fuels Insight (AFI) platform.

“Alternative fuels and propulsion technologies should be on the radar of every shipowner, especially those in the market for a newbuilding in the near future,” said Knut Ørbeck-Nilssen, DNV GL – Maritime CEO. “The AFI platform has been developed to provide a clear picture not only of the fuels and the surrounding infrastructure, but to build links between suppliers and owners and charterers. The knowledge collected on the platform is expanding into a 360-deg view of the sector, allowing all stakeholders to make informed decisions.”

The AFI platform builds on DNV GL’s LNGi portal, which it has now replaced. It has an expanded focus that covers LNG, LPG and methanol, as well as emission reducing technologies, such as scrubbers and batteries.

The platform consolidates detailed technical information on these fuels and technologies, including their bunkering infrastructure, and examines their capabilities and limitations, as well as giving practical insights into their implementation and operation, the class society claimed.

With much of the information free to access, the AFI platform is aimed at owners and operators who need to research and keep up to date with this rapidly moving sector. In addition, through the Fuel Finder tool, shipowners and charterers can submit requests for bunkering, specifying fuel type, location, volume and from which date they would like to bunker.

DNV GL will validate these requests and then makes them available to suppliers.

“The Fuel Finder tool makes it easy for owners and charterers to see how their decision to move to an alternative fuel could work out in practice,” said Martin Wold, head of the AFI platform at DNV GL – Maritime. “With one request, they can see how the operational profile of their projects match the capability of multiple suppliers. We have also been working with several leading suppliers and equipment makers who have signed on as supporters of the portal and we have opened the portal to user contributions, so that we continually expand the platform by adding bunkering and infrastructure projects.”

With interactive maps and data visualisations, it is claimed to be easy for users to see where infrastructure already exists or will shortly be developed, alongside the growing alternative fuelled fleet. The new tools also let users dig deeper into the data to analyse trends and screen the feasibility of their alternative fuel projects based on CAPEX, OPEX and fuel prices.

The AFI platform was developed in collaboration with Shell, Wärtsilä, Caterpillar, SEA\LNG, Skangas, WinGD and Yara Marine.
We have recently seen an upturn in the number of scrubbers specified for tankers, mainly newbuilding crude carriers.

However, the analysts claim that only around 2,500-3,000 vessels of all types will be fitted with exhaust gas cleaning systems out of 50,000 plus ships.

Some tankers are being prepared for dual-fuel operations and are being designed to be ‘LNG ready’ or are being fitted with dual-fuel engines. To be able to access LNG as a fuel, operators are being advised to lock into supply deals now well ahead of the implementation of the low sulfur cap, which the IMO is adamant won’t be postponed or ‘grandfathered’.

Turning to renewables and in particular wind, there have been several vessels retrofitted with sail technology down the years with limited success. It was generally thought that this type of technology was not applicable to tankers, however, those clever people at Maersk Tankers could prove us sceptics wrong.

At the end of August, Maersk Tankers announced that two 30 m tall Norsepower Rotor Sails were installed on board the LR2 ‘Maersk Pelican’.

Norsepower, together with project partners Maersk Tankers, Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) and Shell Shipping & Maritime are involved in the trials.

These Rotor Sails are large, cylindrical mechanical sails that spin to create a pressure differential - called the Magnus effect - that propels the vessel forward. They will provide auxiliary wind propulsion to the vessel, optimising fuel efficiency by reducing fuel consumption and associated emissions by an expected 7-10% on typical global shipping routes.

The Rotor Sails are the world’s largest at 30 m tall by five metres in diameter and were installed on the product tanker while she was berthed in Rotterdam.

“This project is breaking ground in the product tanker industry. While the industry has gone through decades of technological development, the use of wind propulsion technology on board a product tanker vessel could take us to a new playing field. This new technology has the potential to help the industry be more cost-competitive, as it move cargoes around the world for customers and to reduce the environmental impact,” said Tommy Thomassen, Maersk Tankers CTO at the time of the announcement.

The sails were rigorously land tested, including thorough testing of various mechanical and performance criteria, and they are the first Rotor Sails to be class approved for use on a product tanker.

Extensive measurement and evaluation of their effectiveness will now take place to test the long-term financial and technical viability of the technology. Independent experts from Lloyd’s Register’s (LR’s) Ship Performance team will acquire and analyse the performanc data during the test phase to ensure an impartial assessment before technical and operational insights, as well as performance studies, are published.

Tuomas Riski, Norsepower CEO, added: “We have great ambitions for our technology and its role in de-carbonising the shipping industry. The installation of our largest ever Rotor Sails in partnership with these industry leading organisations shows that there is an appetite to apply new technologies.

“With this installation on the ‘Maersk Pelican’, there are now three vessels in daily commercial operation using Norsepower’s Rotor Sails. Each of these cases represents a very different vessel type and operational profile, demonstrating the widespread opportunity to harness the wind through Flettner rotors across the maritime industry.”

Dr Grahaeme Henderson, Shell Shipping & Maritime vice president, concluded: “The shipping industry faces a major challenge in how it can economically ship the increasing amounts of goods and energy the world demands, whilst lowering its environmental impact. We see significant advantages in embracing, testing and driving innovative technologies that we believe show real promise in helping the shipping industry meet this challenge.”




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