Shipping: Powering decarbonization

The global maritime industry is in a state of flux. The arrival of COVID-19 threw a spanner in the works; but growing interest in alternate fuel and energy efficiency, digitization, and the business trend of moving from solution providers to service providers, are changing the face of the maritime industry.

Powering decarbonization

The last few years saw the International Maritime Organization (IMO) set goals and regulations to reduce emissions. In January of this year, the IMO’s cap on sulfur used for marine fuels came into effect. Reducing overall carbon footprint, as well as balancing fuel consumption in individual vessels to create cost savings should be enough motivation for all stakeholders.

Electrical propulsion could have a bright future

For some years, liquefied natural gas (LNG) has been considered the frontrunner for cutting ship emissions Electrical propulsion, on the other hand, could have a bright future. Beginning in the 1980s, e-propulsion is now established in certain vessels such as ice breakers, cruise liners, and drilling vessels operated by dynamic positioning. Related installation and training costs are high, but going forward, the pros of electrical propulsion far outweigh the cons.

Mixing biodiesel into their fuel

This year, various shipping companies began mixing biodiesel into their fuel supply. In some cases, biodiesel can generate 90% less CO2 than virgin fuel; but offsetting a portion of fuel oil with recycled substances also helps these vessels to contribute to, cutting carbon emissions in real terms.

Innovative coating technologies

Reduced emissions can also be achieved with innovative coating technologies. AIRCOAT is a European consortium which aims to further develop water-repellant coatings by creating a permanent layer of air under the vessel when submerged, it helps to streamline the vessel and encourages fuel savings.

Wind in the sails, sun on the back

Solar and wind energy have managed to shake off the “alternative source” label, and both are now seen as plausible solutions to our energy problems.. Eco Marine Power’s Energysail and Sauter Carbon Offset Design (SCOD)’s Green Tanker designs harness wind and solar power to reduce fuel costs and the industry’s carbon footprint, bringing the ship of the future in sight.

In fact, a shake-up of ship design is on the horizon. But less outlandish measures are under consideration too. In recent times, German company Becker Marine has led the way in optimizing vessels’ propulsion performance, by modifying the fore-and-aft flow of water into the propeller. Mewis ducts, rudder bulbs, and other optimizations are now being regarded as standard by many ship designers.

The disruptive power of COVID-19 has highlighted once again the possibility of autonomous operation, as companies discuss ways to prevent the spread of any future pandemics.

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