16 Nov 2021
Approximately 90,000 ships move 9 billion tons of cargo across the seas. With nearly 90% of the world’s food, products and even energy transported around the world by the maritime industry, shipping is the backbone of global world trade. We are also one of the top contributors to global CO2 pollution and responsible for more than 30% emissions.
This has resulted in growing alarm about the adverse impact shipping activities have on the environment. Various stakeholders including shipowners, government bodies and international organisations have taken this serious issue onboard and begun implementing stringent rules and regulations to make positive changes in the way we operate. Innovative technologies, solutions and strategies are being developed to reduce our overall ecological impact and to reach the industry’s sustainability goals and targets.
The targets and goals
The International Maritime Organization (IMO) is there at the helm and tasked with steering our industry in the right direction. Their Greenhouse Gas Strategy, to reduce CO2 emissions by at least 40% by 2030, is supported by a number of vital international shipping organizations. The International Chamber of Shipping and the World Ocean Council are two key players that help set guidelines and standards to ensure that the maritime landscape is regulated in an environmentally efficient manner.
Implemented on 14 July 2021, the new EU policy has adopted a series of legislative proposals that set out to achieve the European Union’s goal of climate neutrality in the EU by 2050. This includes a target of a 55% net reduction in GHG emissions by 2030 through the implementation of a new green fuel law for EU shipping and the use of alternative fuels
Achieving the green objective
Despite a 40% growth in maritime trade, studies indicate that there is a reduction of 32% to 44% in global fuel consumption along with a drop in total Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions by 7%. That said, there is still more that we can do.
Slow steaming is an example of adapting vessel operations to improve energy efficiency and cut down on emissions. This is the process by which a ship operates at a reduced maximum speed to help vessels save fuel and money. While this offers a viable solution for the now, a long-term one that will have an even bigger impact is the use of alternative fuel sources, mainly ammonia and green hydrogen. Notwithstanding the option of alternative fuel sources, companies such as WindWings is looking to harness the power of the wind as a propulsion method with the aim to offset emissions by 2030.
To help combat global pollution and maritime hazards, Eyesea saw the need to develop a smartphone app for users to geotag and submit photos to chart maritime pollution. The data will be used as chart overlays to model the effects of current, wind and tide on its movement and location. These ocean charts and pollution-heat maps will allow them to identify what makes up maritime pollution, and where cleanup efforts can have the greatest impact.
Biofouling, subaquatic organisms that attach to vessel hulls, can add as much as 55% to a ship’s GHG emissions as it reduces fuel and operational efficiency. Presented at the recent COP 26 UN Climate Change Conference, a report from the IMO showed that the shipping industry has underestimated the effect of biofouling on our environment and underpinned the importance of a vessel hull care maintenance management plan.
There are specialists dedicated to providing “green” hull care. International, a subsidiary of AkzoNobel, produces high performance paints and coatings that slows the growth of subaquatic organisms that attach to a ship’s hull. Their anti-corrosive protection, fouling control technologies and fire protection solution enable vessel hulls to cope with the harshest environments. Underwater hull inspections specialists Orobotix provide ship owners and operators with a sub-sea drone solution for ship hull inspection insurance claims, auditing of hull cleaning companies and on-demand inspections to minimize dry dock time. HullWiper’s Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) delivers a green alternative to traditional methods of hull cleaning using divers with brushes or karts. Using high-pressure adjustable water jets, marine fouling is dislodged from a ship’s hull and collected onboard its filter system. All removed fouling is disposed of into dedicated drums onshore for safe and eco-friendly disposal.