20 Oct 2021
A hot topic that continues to gain focus within the shipping industry is sustainability. The conversations about this topic have been driven by a shift in world view as consumers look for new ways to support the growing concern around climate change and the negative environmental impact that humans (that’s us) have on the planet. The outlook toward eco-conscious solutions has birthed a range of global initiatives and strategies, including within the maritime sector.
It’s no secret that the shipping industry is one of the biggest carbon emitters in the world and is responsible for approximately 2% of global emissions. Various ports and industry-related authorities around the world have implemented stringent guidelines in a move to counter the harmful effects that vessels contribute toward GHG discharges. Turning the corner and moving to greener solutions is no easy feat, but it is an attainable goal as evidenced by the numerous regulations set forth by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to cut greenhouse gas emissions and develop zero-emissions vessels by 2030.
Sustainability remains a crucial consideration for the maritime sector, with organisations labelling it as a "key factor" when making decisions. This mindset has had a positive impact on the industry as they look for new and innovative ways to ensure their operations are green and that developing initiatives and eco-friendly products align with this objective. It has become clear that there’s a significant link between sustainability, operational efficiency and business profitability.
As a result, innovative products are being designed to ensure that it keeps the momentum of this movement going. The push towards a more sustainable industry reflects a greater understanding that, while going green is about doing the right thing, it is also about being competitive and profitable.
As the shipping industry moves to a more sustainable ideology, it’s more important than ever to invest in companies and solutions that promise a brighter future for generations to come. While there are numerous companies within the maritime industry that’s driving this change, let’s take a look at three business that are driving sustainability within the shipping industry.
Part of the GAC Group, a provider of integrated shipping, logistics and marine services, GAC Bunker Fuels is the first company to align with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs). In a bid to accelerate decarbonisation, they have set a net carbon zero target for 2030 which includes a progressive transition to alternative fuels such as LNG, methanol, ammonia and biofuel to help their customers reduce their Scope 1 per mt CO2e emissions.
Having taken the long view, GAC Bunker Fuels started the journey toward sustainable bunker fuel supplies early on by helping their customers transition to alternative fuels with a much smaller environmental impact. They are the world’s only bunkering company with an integrated ISO 9001, 14001 and 45001 certifications for bunker procurement that also includes LNG as a marine fuel.
A notable project undertaken by the company was the recent signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with Puget LNG to work together to supply and sell LNG marine fuel from Puget’s terminal to GAC’s customers in the American Pacific Northwest region.
Swiss-based technology group ABB has its fingers in a number of sectors, but it's their development of innovative and sustainable technology within the marine sector that is paving the way for a zero-emission marine industry. Sustainability is a key part of the company’s purpose, with electrical propulsion, data-driven decision support and integrated solutions that move towards the decarbonisation of the shipping industry while meeting the commercial demands of shipowners and fleets.
One such innovative project that ABB has recently announced is the introduction of its hydrogen fuel cells. This is significant, as the shipping industry currently attempts to find alternatives when it comes to utilising the sulfur-heavy bunker fuel - a major pollutant for the environment. While there are still several obstacles to overcome with regards to implementing hydrogen as a primary fuel source, the Swiss company's fuel cell-based power and propulsion system has been integrated into a newly built river vessel along France's Rhone river. The introduction of a fully electric tugboat is also on the horizon for the company, as they have developed an end-to-end propulsion system to sustain emissions-free operations.
There's no question that regular hull cleaning plays a vital role in ship operations and sustainability. Dubai based HullWiper Ltd provides an eco-friendly, safe alternative to traditional methods of hull cleaning using divers with brushes or karts.
HullWiper’s Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) uses adjustable seawater jets that protects expensive hull coatings by gently, yet effectively, dislodging biofouling from vessel hulls. No removed fouling is released into local waters as it is captured onboard its filter unit for safe disposal by a locally approved waste removal company. With operational bases spread across the world, ship owners and operators have access to a green hull cleaning solution that is carried out in line with IMCA and IMO guidelines, and in accordance with local port regulations.