The mere existence of technology does not decarbonise maritime alone

Wartsila, a company in the spearhead of shipping’s decarbonisation efforts, expects more to be done in the coming months and years, in terms of accelerating the inevitable need to lower emissions, Sachin Kulkarni – Head of Sales, Marine Power, South Asia, Wärtsilä says, in an interview.

Q. Wartsila is positioned as a technology company looking to offer solutions towards the shipping industry’s decarbonisation process. Which are the main “ingredients” of this undertaking?

As maritime speeds towards decarbonisation, the biggest question of our time is not if or when, but how this will be achieved. The industry is experiencing an unprecedented era of change, but not one of uncertainty. What we need to do is certain and the time to act is now.

As a company with the most comprehensive portfolio at hand in the industry, Wartsila is turning technology into solutions to enable a sustainable maritime industry.

To drive sustainable shipping, elements like Fuel flexible systems, Energy saving technologies and electrification would take us to reduction in GHG level.

Wärtsilä does this by developing technology and fuel flexibility to create the path towards decarbonisation of the maritime industry. Our history of delivering innovations and industry firsts when it comes to fuel flexibility includes multi fuel technology.

Transition (with our multi-fuel technology) will not simply consist of a clean swap to one fuel or the other but will include fuel blends and drop-ins.

Wartsila’s approach to decarbonisation is to explore future fuel opportunities and methods to improve the efficiency of shipping through digitalisation – while also offering solutions that immediately increase the fuel flexibility and fuel efficiency of vessels. We can do this through engine upgrades and vessel retrofits, along with digital solutions based on connectivity that improve vessel efficiency. These measures also help our customers to comply with frameworks like the Poseidon Principles and Sea Cargo Charter to ensure continued access to finance and cargo.

Q. Do you think that a proposed carbon levy could help speed up the process of shipping’s decarbonisation?

We welcome any initiative that accelerates decarbonisation, both on land and sea as these are interconnected when it comes to e.g. fuel availability & infrastructure. I’d also stress here that the problem area is not the availability or maturity of the technology. The technology to drastically reduce emissions already exists today. The challenge is not downstream, it is upstream. Today, we already have the know-how and the technology to drastically reduce maritime emissions and set the industry on an upgrade path towards complete decarbonisation. But the mere existence of technology does not decarbonise maritime alone – action from both the market and regulatory side of the maritime industry is crucial to incentivise investment, build infrastructure, favour the development of the needed fuel supply chain, and legislate to accelerate the adoption of these technologies. Decarbonising maritime will take more than technology.

Fleet emissions will have direct consequences on access to capital (e.g. Poseidon Principles), on chartering conditions with Sea Cargo Charter, and even on operating expenses (OPEX) due to the introduction of the carbon tax.

Businesses and consumers will take steps, such as switching fuels or adopting new technologies, to reduce their emissions to avoid paying the tax.

Thus, carbon tax could be higher incentive for businesses to avoid the use of fossil fuels and would act as a pressure for fast energy transition process. Also, this would encourage R&D spending for renewable energies.

Q. Dealing with ship owners, which are their main concerns when trying to select a new technology/fuel?

To comply with the IMO target, radical change is needed, in terms of both vessel design and power generation. However, the main challenge is fuel – and the related global investments in its production and infrastructure.

There are uncertainties around every prospective fuel, including when and where they will be available and at what price. Building fuel flexibility into new vessels – and, where appropriate, retrofitting flexible powerplants in older vessels – offers a hedge against these risks.

To manage this risk, it’s essential that ship owners prepare to build fuel flexibility into their vessels. To reach the targets set out in the Paris agreement and the IMO’s 2050 strategy, players in the marine industry need to start acting now.

The transition (with our multi-fuel technology) will not simply consist of a clean swap to one fuel or the other but will include fuel blends and drop-ins.

Source: Hellenic Shipping News

Tags: Decarbonisation, Shipping, Wartsila
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