Bridging the environmental gap in shipping

In 2007 the global shipping industry emitted 1,046 million tonnes of CO2, some 3.3% of total global emissions In 2007 the global shipping industry emitted 1,046 million tonnes of CO2, some 3.3% of total global emissions

Ship operators need to rationalise their energy use in the face of current and anticipated legislation, increasing customer environmental awareness among cargo owners and passengers plus fuel cost rises, says Stuart Melling, manager for marine and crane service at ABB.

From emissions reduction, improved fuel use to the environmental impact of new builds, the shipping industry faces a challenging future. In 2007 the global shipping industry emitted 1,046 million tonnes of CO2, some 3.3% of total global emissions. The IMO predicts a 250% rise in emission levels from expanding sea transport, if suitable energy efficiency policies are not implemented.

Yet, the shipping sector is excluded from international agreements such as the Kyoto protocol. Even though shipping is the cleanest form of transporting goods, with the least damage per tonne of cargo, ship exhaust emissions are regarded as the industry's biggest polluter.

The marine industry looks as if it will finally bow to pressure, as many governments now want to include shipping in future agreements. The IMO is implementing new sulphur emission targets for marine fuel oil by 2015. IMO has also demonstrated a potential to reduce CO2 emissions by 25% to 75% for newbuilds, as well as for ships already operational, simply through increased energy efficiency.

Improved fuel use

An important environmental driver for the shipping sector is fuel. Bunker fuel accounts for some 50% of the total transport costs of a tanker company. Closely linked to crude oil prices, it can only get more expensive. Further fuel costs result from docked vessels running their auxiliary engines to create on-board electric power. This also creates emissions that affect the health and environment of surrounding communities.

A shore-to-ship electric power supply, which allows ships to shut down their engines while berthed and plug into an onshore power source, can help eliminate pollution problems as well as noise and vibration. The ship´s power load is seamlessly transferred to the shoreside power supply without disruption to on-board services, eliminating emissions to the local environment.

Environmental impact of newbuilds

The IMO has agreed to adopt mandatory energy efficiency design standards for new ships. The regulations will require the use of an energy efficiency design index (EEDI) for new ships, stipulating a specific level of energy efficiency to be attained, and a ship energy efficiency management plan (SEEMP) for all ships.

The amendments to the MARPOL regulations, which are expected to come into force in January 2013, will apply to all ships of 400gt and above. Ships built between 2015 and 2019 will have to be 10% more efficient, rising to 20% between 2020 and 2024 and 30% thereafter. But new ships already contracted or under construction in developing nations when the new regulations come into force may be exempt from the scheme.

Why wait for legislation?

Some cargo owners are already considering the environmental performance of their transport providers based on voluntarily submitted environmental data. As part of the EEDI and SEEMP, IMO is also considering the idea of vessels displaying their energy performance through these design and operation indices.

In addition, shipping companies can take some straightforward action, ranging from speed control of pumps and fans through to recycling heat.

Energy-saving variable-speed drives

A major cruise liner company installed ABB variable-speed drives (VSDs) on large on-board fans and blowers throughout its fleet. VSD control ensures that the fans always run at the optimum speed, significantly reducing emissions and fuel costs through cutting energy use. The first two ships saved 1,820 tons of bunker fuel and reduced emissions by 5,732 tons during the first 12 months.

The biggest commercial benefit of energy saving is that it increases profit. Take a shipping company where 50% of costs are fuel and profits are 10% of turnover - a 10% decrease in fuel consumption would increase profit by 45%.

Cost-efficient technology to save energy exists; it is just not being implemented rapidly enough. Reasons for the slow uptake of new technology include organisational failure, lack of time and shortage of competence. There is often no long term energy strategy, with energy issues being given low priority.

Yet the payback for many of today’s energy-saving technologies – most notably drives and motors – can be within months. It is a case of identifying many applications that offer a small saving from energy-efficiency measures, yet collectively add up to a significant total saving.

Marine energy appraisal

To find the applications that can most benefit from energy-saving technologies, ship owners should consider a marine energy appraisal, such as that offered by ABB. This aims to identify the motor-driven applications that can benefit from the use of variable-speed drives, with payback often under two years.

Among the large energy consumers on board vessels are seawater cooling pumps, chilled water pumps and engine room ventilation fans. These applications are often over-dimensioned to handle the most extreme conditions and typically operate at full capacity even when demand is not high. Any flow control is often through mechanical devices such as bypass valves and dampers, which waste energy.

Using variable-speed drives to adjust the speed of the motors according to demand can very often reduce the energy consumed by about 50% with payback on equipment and installation, from fuel savings alone, in less than one year.

Lowering energy consumption helps to reduce emissions through reduced load on the vessel’s diesel generators. Even a single average size seawater cooling pump can save $29,000 and 117 tons of CO2 per year.

There is a large potential for retrofitting existing ships with new fuel-reducing technologies. For example, only around 2% of the global fleet is currently equipped with variable-speed drives for their seawater cooling pumps, with 98% of the fleet missing an opportunity for high fuel savings, environmental and commercial rewards.

Energy saving measures are relevant to most market sectors, single ships or entire fleets, planned newbuilds as well as operating old vessels.

Energy management system

From the very start, senior management should appoint an energy champion with agreed key targets, responsibilities, authority and resources.

Companies should consider an energy management system (EMS) which recognises that proper procedures for measuring and following-up results are as important as being able to plan and implement. The aim of an EMS is to maximise profits, while minimising costs and increase the company’s competitiveness. For example, it can bring together employees that manage a vessel’s energy efficiency with those making decisions on investments.

Another aspect of an EMS is to map and analyse energy usage. This provides data to assess measures and decide on goals for energy efficiency that are challenging but still achievable. Yet it all depends on having a structure in place. Ship owners will need to access project expertise and consulting services that enhance productivity, safety, energy efficiency and environmental impact.

Energy monitoring

One management service that ship operators may find useful is ABB’s energy monitoring and management (EMMA) tool, which can have a big impact on fuel cost reduction. EMMA has been developed specifically for marine companies to operate a ship, several ships or a whole fleet with best possible energy efficiency and environmental responsibility. It puts energy on the agenda throughout the company and makes it possible to optimise energy-related processes, practices and decisions, all the way from the engine room to the board room.

For the ship owner, EMMA represents a key element of an energy management program for improving profitability and reducing the company's overall environmental footprint. Whether a single ship or an entire fleet, the monitoring software gives almost complete visibility to energy production and consumption performance. Trained consultants support the staff on-board and onshore to interpret the information, identify improvement areas, set targets, and coach the staff in running the vessel more efficiently. The management onshore receives consulting and benchmarking services in running the fleet more efficiently. Owners can expect a payback for the service package, consisting of a license and management fee, within 12 months.

EMMA is not a technically complex system, but highly developed software running on ordinary PCs onboard and ashore. The system’s users include crew members with specific responsibilities for energy consumption on-board and personnel with responsibility for the fleet’s overall energy costs, emissions and competitiveness.

In many shipping companies energy use is not transparent. Even when relevant information is logged, the data is often not understood, interpreted or used correctly. Lack of meaningful performance data can make it difficult to assess the implemented measures, which in turn could hinder continued investments in energy efficiency or the acknowledgement of any successes.

The challenges facing the shipping industry are immense, from environmental regulation, rising fuel prices and international bodies imposing tougher environmental requirements. But with services such as shore-to-ship power supplies, marine energy appraisal and EMMA, the voyage to energy efficiency has become a lot easier to navigate.

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