In NCE Maritime CleanTech and Maritime Bergen’s Expert Group for Deep Sea Shipping leading ship owners come together to discuss new technologies and innovations to reduce emissions from the sector. This week the group met to discuss the 4th IMO Greenhouse Gas Study with one of the key authors.
The project Decarbonization of deep-sea shipping was established by NCE Maritime CleanTech and Maritime Bergen in April 2020. The project group consists of leading representatives from ship owners within the deep-sea segment, who come together to look at innovations and technologies that will enable the sector to meet stricter regulations in the years to come. Shipowners represented in the group are Gearbulk, Utkilen, Wilhelmsen, Odfjell, Knutsen, Høegh and SinOceanic. The work is supported by Sparebanken Vest and Vestland County Council.
In a meeting on August 18th the group was joined by Roar Os Aadland, Professor of Shipping Economics, Norwegian School of Economics; Dr Tristan Smith, UCL Energy Institute; and Sveinung Oftedal, Specialist Director of the Norwegian Ministry of Climate and Environment and IMO representative.
Speed is not the solution
In the shipping industry speed is the main driver for fuel consumption. The traditional assumption is that there is a “cubic law” relationship between daily fuel consumption and vessel speed – the slower you go, the lower your emissions are. Presenting the results from a research study, Professor at Norwegian School of Economics, Roar Aadland stated that this is not the case.
We found that the impact of speed reduction appears to depend on the speed itself. For most speeds the effect that speed has on emissions is much lower than what the cubic law implies, Aadland said.
Based on this he argued that on the path towards more sustainable operations, further speed reduction is not the solution for the shipping industry.
– Speed reductions is a low-hanging fruit that we have already picked during the past years. Further reductions are unlikely to produce much net benefits in emissions – it could even make things worse. Speed limits should therefore only be considered to avoid a return to high speeds or to force vessel designs to incorporate permanent lower speeds, Aadland said.
He further claimed that the shipping industry should rather focus on aspects such as hull cleaning and contractual terms.
– Optimal hull cleaning gives a measurable impact of about 10 % emission reduction and implementing contractual changes to remove inefficiencies such as securing just-in-time arrival which could reduce VLCC fleet emissions by 19 %, he said.
Greenhouse gas emissions have increased
A key topic at the meeting was the recently published 4th IMO Greenhouse Gas Study. The study found that GHG-emissions from maritime transport has increased by 5,6 percent between 2012 and 2019. The study further estimates a 150 percent rise in methane emissions over the period under review.
– The conclusion we draw from the study is that emissions are rising because of increased demand for shipping and world trade. Furthermore, emissions are likely to continue to rise or at best develop at flat rate. This is in spite of carbon intensity falling – it is not falling fast enough, and it is not on track for the 1.5 degrees target and current IMO ambitions, said Dr Tristan Smith from UCL Energy Institute, who is one of the key writers behind the study.
He emphasised that failure to take the highest possible action in the 2020s would increase the likelihood for the need for policy interventions that reduce the demand for shipping, or that result in premature scrappage being needed.
– The IMO urgently needs to reconsider what a proportionate absolute reduction in GHG emissions is to reach a 40 % reduction in 2030, what state of preparedness it needs the global fleet to be at in 2030, and to build this into regulations that can implement immediate and rapid carbon intensity and GHG reductions, Dr Smith said.
He further outlined how shipowners must expect increased controls also for ither emission species than CO2 in the years to come.
– Shipping’s GHG emissions are dominated by CO2, but shippers, shipowners and engine manufactures should anticipate that other emissions such as methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O) and black carbon (BC) are emissions species that are likely to be controlled in the future, he said.
Urgent need for more research and effort
Another interesting finding from the IMO study was that more emissions are attributable to domestic shipping that first thought. Most countries continue to count shipping emissions inaccurately e.g. based on fuel sold to shipping as opposed to actual voyages and activity. In the past IMO also calculated emission distribution between international and national shipping based on an assumption of what vessels sail in international traffic and what vessels sail in domestic traffic. The 4th IMO study has used AIS data to accurately distinguish domestic shipping from international emissions on a voyage basis. With access to more accurate data the estimated share of domestic shipping emissions has doubled from 15% to 30%.
Dr Tristan Smith concluded his presentation by urging the need for more research and technology development within new fuels.
Significant decarbonisation requires moving beyond fossil fuel. However, the details remain unclear and we urgently need more research and effort, he said.
National regulations will benefit global shipping
Norwegian Head of Delegation to the IMO at the Marine Environment Protection Committee, Sveinung Oftedal also commented on the IMO study and its importance for the committee’s work.
– The study is important for IMO in our work to define our ambitions. The results are not very surprising considering the 40 % increase in shipping in the period. It also shows that the efficiency improvement we have seen only has effect if the framework is in place for it to continue, and this is dependent on both regulations and the market, he said.
Ship owners have for long urged the importance of international regulations rather than regional regulations. A question was therefore raised whether Oftedal believed the study’s finding of increased domestic emissions will lead to more regional regulations.
– In Norway we have always been aware of the size of domestic emissions, but this has been underestimated in other countries. I believe national regulations stimulate the development of technologies and solutions and if more countries adopt the work started in Norway this will also benefit global shipping. What is uncertain is what will happen in the EU in relation to the Green Deal, Oftedal replied.
He also commented on the possibilities for implementing a CO2 tax for shipping which have been launched as an effective means of speeding up the transition to renewable fuels.
– I recognise that the introduction of renewable fuels is key and there are different ways to regulate this. You could have regulations related to the carbon content you can have in your fuels. The question is then if you can do it for existing ships or for newbuilds only. Economic instruments such as CO2 tax is also possible, but it is extremely difficult to get member states to agree on such issues.
The group will now order an analysis of the issues ship owners are faced with; how can we succeed in the transition to reduced emissions and new technology whilst at the same time competing with existing technology and fuels? What market barriers are ship owners that implement green technology faced with?
The members of the Steering Committee are Per Brinchman, VP Special Projects at Wilhelmsen; Sjur Gjerde, Managing Director at Gearbulk Norway; Erik Hjortland, VP Technology at Odfjell, Siri-Anne Mjåtvedt, CEO at Utkilen and Synnøve Seglem, Deputy Managing Director at Knutsen OAS Shipping.