22 Aug 2023
Authored by Simon Doran, HullWiper MD
A cornerstone of international trade and connectivity, the shipping industry stands at the crossroads of globalization and environmental stewardship. As maritime activities continue to grow, its environmental toll has become increasingly apparent, underscoring the urgency for sustainable practices across shipping networks, vessel operations and port facilities. Attention is shifting towards green solutions that can reduce the sector’s impact on the environment while maintaining its economic viability.
Eco-friendly solutions for underwater hull cleaning, such as HullWiper Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV), are gaining recognition for their capability to drive positive change in the shipping industry’s ongoing decarbonisation efforts. Unlike conventional cleaning methods such as divers using brushes or karts employing rough techniques and harmful chemicals, non-invasive ROVs offer a viable alternative that supports global, regional and local sustainability efforts, preserves marine ecosystems and reduces shipping operators and owners' carbon footprint.
As global efforts by shipping associations work toward reducing carbon emissions, achieving this goal is also heavily dependent on the support and involvement of local port and government authorities. The United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) commitment to becoming carbon-neutral by 2050 is a clear example of how local initiatives play a crucial role alongside global ones in making decarbonisation a reality in the maritime sector.
UAE’s commitment to net-zero
Situated at the intersection of East-West maritime routes, the UAE serves as a prominent global shipping hub. Through collaborative efforts, the Emirates are actively pursuing a carbon-free transition towards green shipping practices through comprehensive and forward-looking strategies.
The UAE Net Zero 2050 strategic initiative aligns with the Paris Agreement, which calls on countries to prepare long-term strategies for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and limiting the global temperature rise to 1.5°C when compared to historical levels. The UAE is the first country in the Middle East and North Africa to launch a national drive toward achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. Its Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MOCCAE) leading this project collaborates with stakeholders in key sectors such as energy, economy, industry, infrastructure, transport, waste, agriculture and the environment to update plans and policies and initiate projects tailored to specific growth requirements, all directed toward achieving net zero by 2050. Federal and local government authorities will be responsible for preparing comprehensive studies and developing plans that introduce the measures necessary to reduce emissions while also ensuring economic growth based on principles of sustainability.
In collaboration with Foundation Det Norske Veritas (DNV), the UAE Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure (MOEI) has established the UAE Maritime Decarbonization Center, an initiative aimed at advancing research, innovation and collaboration to promote environmentally responsible maritime practices, technologies and policies. The center will serve as a focal point connecting stakeholders across the maritime industry and beyond. Adopting a multi-faceted approach, they will engage in leading joint industry research programmes, collaborate with governmental, industry and academic stakeholders and attract and nurture new talent for the industry's growth.
The UAE National Hydrogen Strategy aims to shift towards hydrogen-based energy, supporting the Global Ports Hydrogen Coalition's initiatives. The roadmap serves as a comprehensive national blueprint, designed to bolster domestic, low-carbon industries, contribute to the country's net-zero ambition and position the UAE as a competitive hydrogen exporter. This strategy involves revitalizing the regional maritime industry to produce 'green hydrogen' which can be converted into ammonia for ship fuel and export purposes.
Regional goals, local impact
Based in Dubai, DP World's 'Our World, Our Future' strategy serves as a guiding framework for eco-conscious operations across the ports in their group. This approach involves reducing environmental impacts through better resource management and emissions control, while investing in their diverse workforce's personal growth and change-driving capabilities. Safety is a core focus, aiming for zero harm in the workplace. Its strategic investments prioritize a robust and dynamic society, tackling key concerns for both their people and industry. DP World's commitment to the Green Shipping Challenge includes investing up to $500 million to reduce CO2 emissions by nearly 700,000 tons over the next five years. This *demonstrates their commitment to achieve a 28% reduction in carbon footprint by 2030 and become carbon-neutral by 2040, ultimately aiming for net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
Abu Dhabi (AD) Ports Group, headquartered in Abu Dhabi, is on a mission to steer their group towards responsible and sustainable growth, placing a significant emphasis on investing in efficient and sustainable technology, infrastructure and operations. One of the key takeaways from their Low Carbon Transformation Pathway report is their focus on *reducing both direct and indirect GHG emission from their operations through the accelerated implementation of electrification for their port equipment and fleet, which, in turn, contributes to the reduction of CO2 emissions.
Ras Al Khaimah's (RAK) Environmental Efficiency and Renewables (EE&R) Strategy is pivotal for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. This strategy targets a 30% reduction in electricity consumption, 20% water savings, and 20% integration of renewable energy by 2040. RAK Ports recently signed an agreement with RAK Municipality, alongside other key industry leaders, in support of their Energy Policy, demonstrating their commitment to energy-efficient business operations. Operating across four hubs, RAK Ports will actively incorporate the policy's objectives, which encompass establishing and managing an Energy Management System, ensuring resource availability for energy goals, integrating energy efficiency into procurement decisions, and proactively seeking energy-saving opportunities. Additionally, Saqr Port introduced the pioneering Dynamic Under Keel Clearance® (DUKC®) system, a first in the MENA region. This system optimizes port capacity, dredging choices, and overall efficiency through precise modeling of operations, ship dynamics, hydrodynamics, and real-time environmental data integration.
2013 marked the start of HullWiper journey to support the UAE’s sustainability objectives. We launched our first in-port hull cleaning operations base in Dubai. Since then, we’ve expanded our network to key locations across the Middle East as well as ports in Sweden, Gibraltar, South Korea, Singapore, Australia, Mauritius, Guinea and Panama. Our ROV provides eco-friendly, efficient and safe hull cleaning solutions with strict adherence to international and local environmental rules and regulations. Designed at start-up in-line with Norwegian offshore standards, HullWiper uses adjustable seawater jets to dislodge marine fouling on vessel hulls. All removed debris is safely captured onboard our unique filter system for safe disposal onshore by a locally approved environmental company.
With a number of successful cleans performed in the UAE, HullWiper is dedicated to fostering long-term and sustainable partnerships with our customers. Most recently, we successfully completed our first trial with the SAFEEN Group for their container vessel SAFEEN Power at Khalifa Port in Abu Dhabi. SAFEEN, a subsidiary of AD Ports Group, specializes in a diverse range of maritime and port services, including pilotage, towage, mooring and additional support services for vessels navigating the waterways of Abu Dhabi. SAFEEN actively explores innovative and sustainable solutions to enhance their operational efficiency, aligning with our commitment to advancing environmentally conscious practices within the maritime sector.
As the UAE charts its course towards greener horizons, service providers operating within their maritime structures will need to align with these progressive strides. This alignment isn’t just a matter of compliance; it’s a fundamental transformation that underscores the UAE’s unwavering commitment to sustainable and responsible business practices.