Decarbonisation Technology - November 2023 Issue

Fuelling the decarbonisation of international shipping The shipping industry’s transition to net zero is a sizeable challenge, but major progress is being made on the main driver: legislation

Sebastiaan Bleuanus Wärtsilä Netherlands BV

I t has been an eventful year for those working on the decarbonisation of international shipping. Besides a flurry of technology developments and the world’s first demonstrations, we have seen significant progress on the main driver of shipping’s transition to net zero: legislation. The recently increased ambition level of the IMO (described elsewhere in this issue of Decarbonisation Technology ) can be interpreted as a solid call to action for the industry. Besides progress at the IMO, the European Union’s council adopted the FuelEU Maritime package on July 25, 2023. This package includes a raft of measures but critically also focuses on the carbon intensity of the fuels used in shipping and incentivising the uptake of renewable fuels of non-biological origin (RFNBOs). Though the legislative fog on the decarbonisation of shipping has started to lift, a one-size-fits-all solution has not yet emerged, nor is one expected to materialise. With so many different ship types, operational profiles and regional differences, different solutions will be needed. So how do we get this done as an industry, and what are some of the ways Wärtsilä is supporting the industry with decarbonisation? Efficiency will be critical, both upstream and downstream While shipping is already the world’s most efficient mode of large-scale transportation, further increases in the shipping system are still possible. Here, we need to distinguish between five steps for further increasing efficiency:

 Transport needs optimisation . The inevitable cost increase for transporting items over long distances will lead to a rethink of the need for transport. Tied in with global tensions, we may see an increase in re-shoring, which brings about changes in the need for raw materials and finished products.  Transport system optimisation . Because a ship’s energy consumption per mile is highly dependent on her speed, being able to go slower and avoid waiting at anchorage before docking pays off. Every year, more than 2 million port calls are co-ordinated individually, and more than $18 billion worth of excess fuel is unnecessarily burned, with 160 million tonnes of CO₂ emissions. To help avoid this, port call optimisation techniques have been developed and introduced.  Ship optimisation . Having established the need and optimum speed to sail, a close look at the ship itself reveals that a large part of today’s global fleet is not being used in an optimum way. Often designed and sea-trialled for higher speeds than those used in practice (especially when taking a holistic approach to transport system optimisation), real-world vessel efficiency can be increased through hydrodynamic improvements by adding so-called energy saving devices, by lowering ship resistance through hull air lubrication, and even by adding sails to take advantage of the free fuel: wind. A notable example of this is the Pyxis Ocean bulk carrier that recently completed her maiden voyage from Shanghai to Paranagua in Brazil after being retrofitted with two wing sails, one of which was co-funded by the CHEK project (see opposite) developed


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