Early in 2020, scrubbers have proved to be a good investment, but they will not be the answer for every vessel, said Wärtsilä Moss business development general manager Stian Aakre
In his keynote address on day two of Riviera’s Maritime Air Pollution Conference, Americas in Miami, Mr Aakre addressed predictions about the prevalence of scrubber use under IMO’s 2020 sulphur regulations.
“The ‘2020 solution’ will be a multitude of solutions,” he said.
Operating well, some scrubbers have been shown to remove more than 97% of sulphur from exhaust gases. According to an EnSys study, scrubbers can also reduce carbon dioxide by 7-10%, Mr Aakre said.
So far, he said, the most significant operational challenges to scrubber success have come from insufficient training and crew inexperience, added fuel consumption, and the high costs associated with sludge disposal. Mr Aakre also noted that the greatest physical contributors to scrubber failures are parts corrosion, failed sensor reliability and control systems issues.
General operations aside, concerns about fuel price volatility are undeniable, according to Mr Aakre. Shipowners in early 2020 are hesitant to sign new contracts for scrubbers because prices still have not stabilised industrywide, he said. Comparing MGO and HFO prices, he pointed out that HFO has been more consistent.
Looking further ahead, digitalisation will be key to scrubber performance, he said.
“The scrubber is becoming more than a steel box. We are part of something bigger. At Wärtsilä, we have a digital tool called SmartMarine with dashboards that let you look into the APIs of different vessels, compare vessels, see your fleet, and find out if your scrubber is compliant. It even facilitates predictive maintenance – meaning you can identify a problem before it is actually a problem.”