Retrofitting efficient technologies paves the way to decarbonisation

February 1st 2021

There remains huge uncertainty around which low-carbon fuels will emerge as viable for our net-zero future. In addition, fundamental land-based infrastructure must also evolve to provide future fuel services and this is a significant undertaking for the sector. Yet waiting for change to occur is risky. Efficiency technologies are proven, available now and investors, charterers, and other key influencers are showing the colour of their money – and it’s green.

Companies that are acting now will benefit in both the short and the long term. Carbon reduction opportunities can be applied to individual vessels as well as on a fleet-wide basis. It is important to look at the individual vessels and their routes first; there’s a multitude of effective energy efficiency modifications that can be deployed today, with no single best solution. Start with a proper analysis of the problem rather than an evaluation of the solution being offered to you.  It is about how to package certain technologies together for the greatest efficiency gains and how to achieve the best return on any investment. When you get into the right level of detail, you find the right answers. However, to do this, you need expert and independent advice.

Although much of the technology has been in the market for some time and comes with proven savings, there is a wide variety of choice. There are propeller modifications such as mewis ducts, propulsion improvements, such as air lubrication systems, and propulsion augmentation with wind. Then there are hi-tech anti fouling coatings, cold ironing, waste heat recovery, automated docking systems, and electrical considerations such as the benefit of using a variable frequency drive. And this list is far from exhaustive!

The key point is that there are a huge range of proven opportunities to improve efficiency, minimise fuel consumption, and reduce emissions considerably. It just takes an expert to do the analysis and evaluate the best solution for a particular vessel and the wider fleet.

Sean McLaughlin, Strategy Consultant at Houlder, says:

“A big change for shipping is that the end consumer is becoming increasingly important. It’s no longer a private conversation between shipowner and the charterer. Increasingly, governments are forcing publication of entire supply chain carbon targets and achievements. Shipping is proud of its position in that supply chain. Now it also needs to be decisive, not only in regard to its decarbonisation ambition, but how it’s going to achieve it.

“It’s also important to recognise that better rated ships provide the incentive to invest, and charterers are already picking the most efficient vessels. From a shipowners perspective, start making decisions while they are yours to make. If you do nothing, someone else will likely start deciding for you.”

For more on green finance and the value of retrofitting solutions, check out our webinar with RightShip and KPMG here.