Globalization, climate change, and escalating energy costs are a strategic nightmare for shipping companies and they all have one thing in common—fossil fuels.

—Martin Stopford, Clarksons

The shipping industry has been slow to respond to climate change, remaining reliant on bunker fuel, a highly polluting and dirty fuel. Because of this, just 16 of the largest ships can produce as much sulphur pollution as all of the world’s cars.

Without limits, carbon emissions from shipping could triple by 2050. But more efficient engines could reduce emission by 30 percent. Recent laws also now require emission controls on ships. Other ongoing initiatives are showcased below.

Improving fuel efficiency

  • Liquid Natural Gas (LNG). Quebec’s passenger ferry service, Société des traversiers du Québec, recently announced the construction of two LNG ferries. The technology makes optimal use of LNG, using diesel fuel only to ignite the main charge of gas and air. The new technology will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent. Other environmental features of the ferries include energy-efficient lighting, a heat recuperation system, low-flush toilets, and garbage-separation facilities for onshore recycling.
  • Windpower. The University of Tokyo recently unveiled a new cargo ship with sails that would reduce fuel use by at least 25 percent. A prototype will be ready by 2016.
  • Fuel efficiency. Maersk believes its forthcoming ‘Triple-E’ vessels (Economy of scale, Efficiency and Environment) will set new standards for size, fuel, and cost efficiency, as well as reduce CO2 emissions. The vessels are scheduled for delivery between 2013-2015.
  • Optimal trim. Finnish shipping support system provider, Eniram, has devised an automatic ship-based application known as DTA (Dynamic Trimming Assistant). This system monitors a ship’s position in the water, informing the crew of the optimal trim for their vessel. Fitted ships can trim fuel costs while curbing emissions.

Sources: Sustainable Shipping Initiative, The Case for Action, Forum for the Future; Green Marine, Alliance Verte, January 23, 2012; Focus Finland 2011; Mail Online, Daily Mail UK, “How 16 ships create as much pollution as all the cars in the world,” November 21, 2009.

Making ports sustainable

Cold ironing. Plugging in ships is a big focus in port sustainability efforts. Many ports around the world have implemented shore-to-ship power, or are planning to do so soon. These include Antwerp, Barcelona, Bremen, Busan, Civitavecchia, Copenhagen, Gothenburg, Lübeck, Marseille, Oulu, Rotterdam, Stockholm, Venice, and Zeebrugge in Europe; Los Angeles, Long Beach, Juneau, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, and Vancouver in the rest of the world. Cold ironing systems allow savings of over 30 percent of CO2 emissions and 95 percent of nitrogen oxygen and particulate. This system also reduces noise pollution and improves air quality. According to James Corbett from the University of Delaware, the worldwide death toll from ship emissions is calculated to be about 64,000 a year. Plug-in ships could remove the emissions equivalent of 5,000 cars per year.

Green energy. Several European ports have converted their power supply to CO2 neutral, wind-generated electricity sources. Among these are the ports of Algeciras, Rotterdam, and Zeebruge. In the United States, the Port of San Diego recently completed the installation of solar panels to power its administration building, part of an overall goal to reduce the port’s operational energy use by at least 170,000 kilowatt hours per year.

Curbing CO2 emissions: APM Terminals Mumbai


APM Terminals Mumbai established a target of reducing CO2 emissions by 10 percent by the end of 2012 from the 2009 baseline. It has achieved that goal and more, further reducing its emissions by 14.7 percent by the end of 2011.

This was the result of a number of initiatives that have been implemented since 2009, based on the findings of an energy audit.

  • Engine conversion. Two-speed engine conversions for rubber tyred gantry cranes (RTGs) enabled engines to run at idle speed when no lifting was performed. This resulted in reduced fuel consumption of over 742 thousand liters in 2010 and 800 thousand liters in 2011, with considerable reductions in CO2 emissions as well. Furthermore, plans are underway to equip all APM Terminals with electric-powered RTGs, either through retrofits or replacement.
  • Ecofriendly RTGs. Specially designed RTGs with variable speed generators were purchased. The engines in these RTGs adjust to the weight of the container resulting in reduced fuel consumption of more than 43,000 liters in 2012 and 112,000 in 2011.
  • Wind turbines. Replacing electrically-powered forced ventilation fans in shore-to-ship (STS) crane machine houses with wind turbine ventilators resulted in reduced electricity consumption. Savings amounted to more than 514,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) in 2010 and 616,000 kWh in 2011.
  • Energy efficiency. Special energy-saving panels were introduced to illuminate the yard area, allowing for a reduction in electricity consumption. This has led to further electricity savings of over 506,000 kWh since 2010.

Source: APM Terminals