HullWiper | Panama’s eco-conscious plan for shipping trade in action

Panama’s eco-conscious plan for shipping trade in action

01 Mar 2022

01 Mar22 Panamas eco conscious plan for shipping trade in action Photo

The shipping industry is a large and growing source of greenhouse gas emissions. Maritime transport produces around 940 million tons of CO2 annually and is responsible for approximately 2.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions (GHG).

Numerous governments and maritime organizations have stated implementation of strict policies and targets that ensure the industry achieves carbon neutrality by 2050, an objective that has seen the European Union adopt legislative proposals that aim to have the industry reduce its GHG emissions by 2030. This initiative is backed by the International Maritime Organization's (IMO) target of a reduction in emissions of at least 40% by 2030.

A number of major shipping companies are following suit and have set their own decarbonisation goals beyond the IMO's target. For example, Danish shipping company Maersk has set the target of achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 and has implemented a provisional goal of a 60% reduction in emissions by 2030.

Despite operating within the confines of a pandemic, international trade continues to expand, with the United Nations revealing that global trade reached a record level of $28.5 trillion in 2021 which is an increase of around 25% compared to 2020. The overall impact of this expansion could have a negative effect on the industry's efforts to mitigate climate change as emissions slowly rise due to a growing supply chain.

Nearly 90% of the world's trade is carried out by sea with an estimated 2.3% of this transported via Panama's waterway. Despite the number of vessels that pass through the Panama Canal, it has recently been announced that it had contributed to the reduction of 16 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent emissions in 2021. This is three million tons more than 2020 when compared to alternative trade routes.

These savings are comparable to the amount produced by 3.2 million passenger vehicles driven in one year, or the carbon sequestered by 248 million tree seedlings grown for 10 years.

Panama’s “Green Connection Environmental Recognition Program”

In January 2021, Panama Canal launched its CO2 Emissions Dashboard to aid in building vital information secured from the Emissions Calculator. This dashboard tracks the total CO2 emissions that vessels save by sailing through the Panama Canal as opposed to alternative routes, which helps ship operators understand the benefits that come with taking the shortest route and how this affects the sustainable supply chain. The dashboard utilises geo-referenced data and technology that can already be found on-board ships which help measure emissions, with new data collected each month by segment.

According to the data collected, containerships managed to save 5.2 million tons of CO2, followed by dry bulk carriers at 2.5 million tons, and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) carriers with 1.2 million tons.

Alongside this achievement, the Panama Canal has set a target to become carbon neutral by 2030 and has been at the forefront of numerous green initiatives to aid in carrying out this target. The waterway has implemented a range of environmental incentives and tools over the years through its sustainability program, the Green Connection Environmental Recognition Program.

Curbing aquamarine hitchhikers

The Panama Canal is a conduit for maritime trade and is an 82-kilometre waterway that connects the Atlantic Ocean with the Pacific Ocean. It is a key transit point for vessels sailing these oceans but has the disadvantage of contributing to the intermingling of marine biofouling that is attached to the transiting ship hulls.

Biofouling is the unwanted accumulation of marine organisms such as algae, microorganisms and plants on the submerged surfaces of seafaring vessels and has been identified as one of the biggest threats to the health of the environment. These marine hitchhikers compete for resources with local marine life and cause enormous damage to biodiversity and natural resources.

Operating in Panama, HullWiper provides a sustainable hull cleaning solution in the port and anchorage areas of Balboa through its Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV).

HullWiper's innovative ROV remains unmatched when compared to traditional methods of hull cleaning such as divers with brushes which adds plastics into the water column. Manned by trained technicians, the ROV utilizes adjustable high-low pressure seawater to remove biofouling which is captured by its onboard filter unit for safe disposal onshore. This cleaning method preserves the vessel’s expensive antifouling coating and protects the local ocean ecosystem.

Cleaning can be done while cargo or bunker fuel operations are underway, day or night, and in most weather conditions ensuring no delay to vessel schedules.

HullWiper’s eco-friendly hull cleaning solution is also available at various locations across the Middle East as well as Australia, Gibraltar, Mauritius, Singapore, Sri Lanka, South Korea, and Sweden with operations out of Guinea to start soon.