Those working in the maritime shipping industry are already aware of the regulations imposed on the sulfur content in the fuel used by ships by the International Maritime Organization on January 1, 2020. In an important step towards decarbonization in commercial shipping, the new law mandates a decrease in sulfur levels from 3.5% mass/mass to .5% mass/mass. This has already incurred heavy costs throughout the industry and highlighted the value of having pollution insurance. Source: WQIS
Solutions for Today
Most companies are switching to cleaner fuels, which can be 50% more expensive than those which were previously standard. Others are installing emission purification systems, or scrubbers, which remove particulate matter from exhaust gases. However, these systems are often designed to release the particles as affluent and it’s unlikely that they represent a permanent solution as environmental regulations are set to become more severe.
Innovations for Tomorrow
As a result, some companies are investing in R&D to find better and more cost-effective alternatives. The use of alternative fuels, such as liquid natural gas or hydrogen, is being reviewed. Another possibility is the harnessing of renewable energies. These include the use of:
- Wind propulsion via soft sails, fixed sails, kit sails and rotors
- Solar-charged lead-acid batteries
- Wave energy
Whatever actions companies take to address this issue, it is clear that the era of cheap fuel is over for the shipping industry. Indeed, the targets set by the IMO to reduce emissions by 50% will require even more drastic measures. Companies that meet these challenges today by developing new technologies will reap the rewards in years to come.