Eco-Ships and retrofitting: GL’s solution for the future

05 Jun 2013
Cover of GL's energy saving manual

Cover of GL's energy saving manual

At Nor-Shipping 2013, classification society Germanischer Lloyd launched a manual aimed at shipowners wishing to explore retrofitting solutions to ensure that existing vessels remain economic, and announced that, in the society’s opinion, the Eco-Ship concept is here to stay.

According to GL, the current phase of newbuildings aim to consume some 20% to 30% less fuel than most ships built only three years ago, now that owners rather than shipyards are calling the tune – but this leaves many comparatively recent ships potentially struggling to remain competitive in the market. And this situation can only get worse as new environmental standards come into force.

"Retrofit technologies offer the comparatively young fleet of existing ships the chance to remain active and economically attractive to owners and operators," said Jan-Olaf Probst, GL's global ship type director. “These eco-efficient technologies not only benefit the bottom line, but will have a positive impact on the ecological impact of the entire shipping industry".

The manual demonstrates how technical, operational and managerial solutions can increase the energy efficiency of existing vessels. It contains a number of possible options, background information on the technologies and important considerations for their implementation, as well as a chart which indicates the potential of the retrofit measure for each ship type in respect to its age, the required investment, payback time, ease of execution required planning time.

Measures examined include modifications to hull and superstructure, propeller and rudder, main and auxiliary engine, supporting systems, energy consumers on board and capacity enhancement. Mr Probst adds that savings are often found in adapting a vessel to its current operating profile, which can be significantly different from that for which it was designed. With fuel expenses accounting for up to 60% of total costs, payback periods can be short.

As far as newbuilds are concerned, GL believes that the trend toward building and operating so-called Eco-Ships is irreversible, given the potential cost savings for the industry, even given the unlikely scenario of falling bunker prices

Christian von Oldershausen, GL's chief commercial officer, said that a number of container vessel optimisation projects undertaken by GL have shown substantial advantages, thanks to attention at the design stage by targeting a vessel's real operating profile, applying a wider beam and increased capacity. Another major driver lies in design optimisation which focuses on hull lines, propulsion, onboard systems and new-generation engines.

Mr von Oldershausen said that the lower yard prices currently enjoyed by owners, added to bunker costs and lower general operating expenses, made the newbuilding option financially attractive. Therefore Eco container-ships offer benefits large enough to justify orders beyond that expected from the tonnage balance in the market. Although, as with the retrofit options, container ships show the biggest benefits, similar solutions are equally applicable to other ship types, says GL.

"We believe that ECO-ships are now the norm both today and for the future. With owners seeing the benefits from new tonnage being up to a third more efficient than average existing vessels and customers insisting on better performance, we won't see many ships built that are not designed to minimise their fuel consumption and ecological impact," said Mr von Oldershausen.

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