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Ocean Infinity has announced plans for the next phase of its Armada fleet of robotic vessels with a signed contract for eight 78-metre, optionally crewed robotic vessels.

Thursday, 12 November 2020 08:42

Mitsubishi Shipbuilding joins "ROBOSHIP project

Mitsubishi Shipbuilding has joined an inter-business project to explore the potential of the "ROBOSHIP" as the marine vessel of the future.

DNV GL – Maritime has released the fourth edition of its Maritime Forecast to 2050. The purpose of Maritime Forecast to 2050 is to enhance the ability of shipping stakeholders, especially shipowners, to navigate the technological, regulatory and market uncertainties in the industry, and set shipping on a pathway to decarbonisation. It is based on a library of 30 scenarios which project future fleet composition, energy use, fuel mix, and CO2 emissions to 2050. Sixteen different fuel types and 10 fuel technology systems are modelled in the report.

“The grand challenge of our time is finding a pathway towards decarbonisation,” said Knut Ørbeck-Nilssen, CEO of DNV GL – Maritime. “Reducing GHG emissions is rapidly becoming the defining decision-making factor for the future of the shipping industry. The pressure to act decisively is mounting. Perfect is the enemy of good, and so we mustn’t wait for an ideal solution to arrive and risk making no progress at all. Using a wide range of scenarios involving different fuel types and technologies, and varying degrees of regulatory pressure, our new report helps to map a way forward, offering shipowners clear insights on how to meet the challenges and opportunities ahead.”

The Maritime Forecast identifies the choice of fuel as the essential factor in decarbonising shipping. The industry is at the beginning of a transition phase, with many potential options emerging alongside conventional fuels. This increasingly diverse fuel environment means that engine and fuel choice now represent potential risks that could lead to a stranded asset. Factoring in the impacts of availability, prices and policy, on different fuels, makes the choice even more complex.

To capture this complexity and help make this picture clearer the Maritime Forecast offers a wide range of scenarios, outlining the potential risks of a particular fuel choice. To make the ramifications concrete, alongside the pathways, the Maritime Forecast includes detailed analysis of a Panamax bulk carrier newbuilding. By stress testing technology decisions under the various pathways and scenarios, the Forecast presents potential performance and the carbon robustness of the various design choices.

The 30 scenarios result in widely different outcomes for the fuel mix in the fleet. In the scenarios with no decarbonization ambitions, very low sulphur fuel oil, marine gas oil and LNG dominate. While under the decarbonization pathways, in 2050 a variety of carbon-neutral fuels holds between 60 per cent and 100 per cent market share.

Under the decarbonisation scenarios it is hard to identify clear winners among the many different fuel options. Fossil LNG gains a significant share until regulations tighten in 2030 or 2040. Bio-MGO, e-MGO, bio-LNG and e-LNG emerge as drop-in fuels for existing ships. By 2050, E-ammonia, blue ammonia and bio-methanol frequently end up with a strong share of the market and are the most promising carbon-neutral fuels in the long run.

A surprising result from the model is the relative limited uptake of hydrogen as a ship fuel, as a result of both the estimated price of the fuel and the investment costs for the engine and fuel systems. Hydrogen, however, plays an integral role as a building block in the production of several carbon-neutral fuels such as e-ammonia, blue ammonia and e-methanol, all of which gain significant uptake under the decarbonization pathways. It may also find niche applications in some vessel types, such as ferries and cruise vessels, as well as in specific regions where investments have been made into local production and distribution.

The Maritime Forecast to 2050 is part of a suite of Energy Transition Outlook (ETO) reports produced by DNV GL. The ETO has designed, expanded and refined a model of the world’s energy system encompassing demand and supply of energy globally, and the use and exchange of energy between and within ten world regions.

The full Maritime Forecast to 2050 can be downloaded here.

Kongsberg Maritime has signed an agreement with Shell International Trading and Shipping Company, to deliver Shell’s patented draft and trim optimisation software, Just Add Water System (JAWS).

In 2019, 43 billion tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) generated from human activity was emitted into the Earth’s atmosphere, an estimated 20 per cent of which resulted from transportation.  Often overlooked in discussions of climate change is the impact of the maritime industry as a generator of greenhouse gas emissions.  At the same time, the marine sector presents the most green option for advancing a sustainable global economy.  The key to achieving this is electrification, writes Dr. Ben Gully, chief technology officer at LAVLE.

In 2014, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) estimated that CO2 emissions from shipping vessels were equal to two percent of the world’s man-made emissions, saying that without immediate action, those numbers could rise anywhere from 50 to 250 per cent by 2050. 

Yet the maritime sector is ahead of the curve as a sustainable means of transportation.  Shipping is the most carbon-efficient form of transporting cargo around the world.  Container shipping is estimated to be 2.5 times more energy efficient than rail and 7 times more efficient than road transport.  Inland river barges are over 15 times more efficient than rail, and 70 times more efficient than trucks, for transporting goods.  Enhancing this efficiency with solutions that reduce the considerable emissions produced by vessels will further position marine transport as a lynchpin for global sustainability efforts.

To reduce maritime pollution and curb the industry’s negative impacts on climate change, the IMO has committed to reducing the total annual greenhouse gas emissions from international shipping by at least 50 percent over the next 30 years.  Vessel owners—to meet these new standards, and to become better environmental stewards—are rapidly accelerating efforts to achieve these goals.  Electrification has emerged as the optimal solution to reduce emissions, fuel, and maintenance costs, while further increasing efficiency.

Why electrification is the best path forward  

Although there are multiple technology pathways to achieve these targets, the maritime sector has largely embraced hybrid or full electric propulsion systems.  These mature technologies allow for the direct replacement of diesel engine power for short sea operation.  When combined with the improvements they offer in efficiency and environmental stability, they are highly attractive to operators including in the ferry sector, in which electric solutions have rapidly expanded worldwide.

Use of batteries has grown much more rapidly than LNG, which while an established and clean technology has not caught on with vessel owners, including due to the high costs and infrastructure required to get LNG onto vessels.  There are an estimated 200 vessels deployed with gas engines, but it has taken more than 15 years to reach this level—in comparison to battery systems, which reached this same level of deployment just within the last 5 years.  Fuel cells are frequently mentioned as part of the future of propulsion systems, yet without batteries they will not be able to take the load profile of conventional vessels.

Batteries offer several important advantages for reducing environmental impacts.  They can be charged using renewable energy when in port, which further reduces emissions.  Vessels equipped with full electric and hybrid electric propulsion systems run both cleaner and quieter—reducing impacts on communities and environmentally sensitive areas.  Modern production and recycling programs for battery technology are also advancing the industry’s overall green footprint, creating new options for reuse and second life.

Moreover, maritime vessels operate with very long life cycles, so “future proofing” is key.  Vessel owners are seeking solutions that enable them to keep ahead of future environmental regulations and restrictions, and costly retrofits.  Advancing battery technologies offer increasingly longer life spans, thus making them an even more attractive investment.

Barriers to wider adoption of battery technologies

The primary challenge to broader application of electrification in the maritime industry has been the safety and performance limitations of conventional lithium-ion storage technologies.  For good reason, safety requirements are already very stringent.  Even more important for advancing electrification of marine vessels is increased energy density.  Up until now, electrification has largely been limited to vessels running shorter routes of 40 minutes or less, restricted by the energy density of existing cell technologies, and the size and weight of energy storage systems (ESS) that can be installed on vessels.

New battery technologies poised to enter the marine market, including lithium metal, solid state, and novel chemistries, will enable vessel owners to overcome these barriers, including through significantly increased energy density, stronger safety, and state-of-the-art ESS management systems.  These will make possible larger-scale applications with greater environmental and industry impact, further accelerating widespread adoption of electrification solutions.

A greener future on the horizon 

As new regulations enter into effect to achieve the IMO’s ambitious emissions reduction targets, no technology is better positioned to facilitate this goal than advanced battery solutions. Undoubtedly the global marine transport industry will see even more changes over the coming years, but marine electrification will continue to offer the most optimal and cost-effective approach to significantly reduce emissions, while further increasing the efficiencies and capabilities of what is already the world’s most sustainable means for keeping commerce moving.

Dr. Ben Gully

Dr. Ben Gully is chief technology officer for LAVLE and leads the company’s battery system design and engineering activities. He previously held the position of senior engineer and subject matter expert for DNV GL’s Maritime Advisory group, coordinating and serving as technical lead of the Maritime Battery Safety Joint Development Project, a collaborative industry research project bringing together leading international manufacturers and governmental maritime authorities to address outstanding issues with lithium-ion battery safety. Dr. Gully holds a PhD in mechanical engineering from the University of Texas at Austin.

This article was originally published on VPO Global.

A project to demonstrate how autonomous ships and automation in ports can make waterborne transport more flexible and reduce environmental impact has received EUR 7.5 million from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program.

Inmarsat has become a founding member of Asia’s first ‘Decarbonising Shipping’ initiative to harness the power of start-ups to meet UN targets on greenhouse gas emissions, which launched earlier this month.

ABS and Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME) have signed a joint development project (JDP) agreement to explore decarbonisation and digitalisation strategies for Very Large Crude Carriers (VLCC) and Ultra Large Container Ships (ULCS).

ABS, Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) and Hyundai Global Service (HGS) have agreed on a framework for the exchange of Digitalisation and Decarbonisation (D&D) concepts to apply to present and future designs. This new framework will be an industry first D&D ecosystem between class, shipyard and ship service company.

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