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All aboard for greener shipping  


A Danish initiative is showing how companies from the same sector can work together, with endorsement from public authorities, to implement less environmentally damaging technologies that also help to reduce operational costs and therefore benefit sectoral competitiveness.

The Green Ship of the Future initiative involves Danish maritime companies. Their objective is to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions by 30%, and emissions of sulphur oxides and nitrogen oxides by 90%. This is being done incrementally through a range of innovations relating to, for example, engines, fuels, cooling systems and even operational tools. In this latter category, the initiative has found that CO2 emissions can be cut by up to 4% just through better information on ship operations collected by sensors, and through measures such as improved route planning.

The initiative's coordinator, Magnus Gary, says that the Green Ship of the Future is about “development in small steps”. It implements innovations that are already near-to-market to make immediate gains. “This does not say that we do not look for large steps, but the size of the industry world-wide and the technical and commercial complexity means that the small steps approach will give an overall better outcome as it will be implemented quicker and broader than one giant but narrow step,” Gary says.

One example of such a near-to-market innovation was a less-toxic anti-fouling paint for ship hulls. The paint is needed so that ships do not become encrusted with marine organisms, which create resistance and slow the ship. However, standard paints include toxic substances which can harm marine life. The initiative has shown that a more eco-friendly paint can be applied which, by reducing resistance, can cut fuel use by as much as 8%.

Gary says that the initiative cannot give an overall emissions reduction because “these numbers lie with the specific shipowners.” However, application of innovations on “concept ships” has led to significant gains, according to information published by the initiative. For one large container ship, for example, cuts of 25% for CO2, up to 98% for sulphur oxides and 80% for nitrogen oxides were achieved.

The initiative was started in 2008 by four major Danish maritime companies, Aalborg Industries, A.P. Moller-Maersk, MAN Diesel and Odense Steel Shipyard. It now involves a wide range of partners. It is backed by the Danish government, but all costs are borne by the private sector participants.

Further information: http://www.greenship.org