Both retrofit and newbuild scrubber orders are booming with the 2020 sulphur cap around the corner
The container ship scrubber market is booming. According to DNV GL figures (as of November), there are currently 777 container ships (including both in operation and on order) that have scrubbers
This makes the container ship type the second largest for scrubber installations, eclipsed only by bulk carriers.
According to French consultancy Alphaliner, MSC is at the top when it comes to scrubber installations. The carrier has orders for 250 ships, a large chunk of its fleet of 564 box ships. Next comes Evergreen with 150 ships, a huge 74% of its fleet. Third is Maersk, which will have around 140 out of its 170 vessels equipped with scrubbers. Hapag-Lloyd is installing scrubbers on 10 of its 13,000 TEU Hamburg-class vessels during this year and 2020.
Going against the grain, ONE is only planning on using low sulphur fuel oil for its fleet.
During 2018 the general shipping market for scrubbers “exploded,” according to Wärtsilä, the market leader as per the DNV GL database. “Generally speaking, the size and speed of this increase in demand took everyone by surprise. However, as expected, demand has levelled off in 2019 and the market is now more or less where we expect it to be,” says Wärtsilä’s director of exhaust cleaning Sigurd Jenssen. Open-loop and hybrid systems take up a major share of the company’s orderbook.
Selecting scrubbers involves a careful consideration of the following factors: engine size/exhaust gas flow, routes, ports and port stay duration, available space on the vessel, drydock timeframes, open-loop/closed-loop/hybrid system selection, ocean alkalinity and its effect on scrubber efficiency and engine load.
“1 January 2020 is now at our doorstep, so owners and operators should by now have made their decisions regarding compliance with the sulphur regulations. This means a clearer picture of the options chosen is beginning to emerge. We feel that those companies that made an early decision to install EGC solutions are at an advantage, since compliance is now assured, the payback time is set, and their fuel choice has been decided,” says Mr Jenssen.
Scrubber suppliers predict that once the price of low sulphur fuels stabilises in the market, the payback period for scrubbers will turn out to be lower than feared. This would spur another wave of scrubber retrofits.
The first Wärtsilä Q-SOx was installed this year and the company has already sold 160 of these. The largest unit was 70 MW and the smallest has been 20 MW. Q-SOx is claimed to provide a CO2 emission reduction of 7% to 10%, and a reduction in power consumption of 1.5% to 2.5%. Half the scrubber body is made from recycled high-grade steel and performance is 45 m/MWh to scrub 0.1% S compliance.
Wärtsilä has sold 400 of its BOTU-M membrane wash water treatment units that treat a portion of the process water before discharging it overboard or to a holding tank. It also targets small particles in process water. Wärtsilä will soon release a new control system designed to meet current rules and regulations around the increasing need for cyber security, with the capability to capture data and linking to onshore data collecting and processing equipment.
CR Ocean Engineering’s Nick Confuorto says the scrubber market grew from a North American and European one to a global market. Passenger ship retrofits happen mainly in Europe, the Bahamas and Australia, with very few in Asia. However, almost all non-passenger ships are going to China for retrofits, he adds.
Meanwhile, there have been reports of mounting delays in yards and teething troubles in operating scrubber systems such as acidic corrosion in scrubber discharge pipelines. Mr Confuorto sees several factors at work here. The shipowner often decides to carry out other work when the ship is going to the yard for scrubber retrofit. This extends the time spent in the yard.
Further, the scrubber tower and other equipment have to be engineered into a ship design that did not intend to incorporate them originally. Retrofitting projects can be challenging due to lack of installation space.
Therefore, scrubber retrofits require planning and engineering work prior to the ship entering the yard. While a scrubber retrofit should typically take 1.5 weeks, lack of planning often leads to delays.
A smaller scrubber footprint helps avoid delays, according to Bilfinger. Side entry of the exhaust gas (in contrast to U-type scrubbers) and dry-running capability (eliminating the need for a bypass) help to reduce the footprint, and these are offered by Bilfinger. Working with experienced design companies and shipyards will ensure the retrofitting process is as smooth as possible, say Bilfinger representatives.
“As we head into 2020, 99% of retrofits are being carried out by yards with little experience in that line of work. There is a learning curve but this was always expected,” says Mr Confuorto, adding scrubber suppliers have enough experience and have learned their lessons. “The tower itself is easy to install. Mostly it takes just a day or two. But laying piping, equipment and cables is what is occupying much of the 2-3-week stay in yards now,” he adds.
Is emissions policy on the wrong track?
Elsewhere, a chief scientist at Norwegian research institute SINTEF has warned that the maritime industry’s efforts might be “on totally the wrong track.” By focusing too narrowly on CO2, the industry could hit all its targets and still make its environmental impact worse.
Dr Elizabeth Lindstad was speaking at the Clean Shipping Alliance 2020 (CSA2020) technical seminar in Brussels on 14 November, discussing how propulsion options to meet regulatory requirements can be met and how greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions can be reduced.
Dr Lindstad considered several regulations, including IMO’s 2050 CO2 reduction targets, the Phase 3 requirements of the 2025 Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI), NOx Tier 3 reductions and the 2020 sulphur cap. The overall message is that more work is needed if shipowners are to meet all such regulatory instruments. Dr Lindstad said: “We have to do much more than just having a hybrid scrubber. We need to do something with the hullform. We need to do something with the hydrodynamics of the vessel.”
And reduced emissions from shipping can play an important part in reaching the target of the Paris Agreement to limit the global average temperature to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, said Dr Lindstad. The Ocean as a Solution to Climate Change, a report delivered to the UN Secretary General at the UN Climate Summit in September, outlined five areas where action can help to mitigate climate change in 2020. The report’s authors, who include Dr Lindstad, estimate that 21% of the needed annual GHG emissions reductions could be met by these five areas, one of which is ocean transport.
On the policy side, Dr Lindstad called for a revamp of the EEDI as a key priority in achieving emissions-reduction targets, adopting measures to encourage going beyond the Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan (SEEMP), and criticised such measures for focusing on CO2 rather than addressing GHG emissions more broadly. She cited so-called well-to-tank emissions – those arising from production of a fuel, not just its consumption. Dr Lindstad also addressed the issue of well-to-wake emissions – meaning full lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions – of fuels.
She also called for research to identify market and non-market barriers to uptake of energy-efficient technology, continued research into ship design (including hullforms and propulsion) and increased focus on sustainable energy sources such as wind, waves, ocean currents and the sun to reduce the use of carbon- and non-carbon-based fuels.
And on the technology side, high-efficiency hullforms, hybrid power systems, wind-assistance technologies and weather routeing systems were all singled out as areas for development.
Dr Lindstad argued that while in theory using LNG reduces GHG emissions by about a quarter compared with MGO or HFO, larger emissions for the LNG supply chain and uncombusted methane from the ship’s engine can actually nullify GHG gains.
Currently, low-pressure Otto-cycle based dual-fuel LNG engines represent the cheapest option in terms of capex for meeting regulations such as the EEDI’s energy efficiency requirements. However, Dr Lindstad argued that such low-pressure LNG options actually increase global warming, having 137% of the WTW emissions of diesel marine gasoil (which Dr Lindstad used as a reference fuel) and not reducing GHG emissions at all.
Using as an example vessel a medium-range, 183 m-long tanker with a design dwt of 37,000, of which there are approximately 1,500 such vessels globally, Dr Lindstad noted that the best LNG technology available – high-pressure dual-fuel engines operating on the diesel principle – meet all regulatory requirements at a cost of about US$9M-US$10M. However, the cheaper option – the low-pressure Otto cycle – only costs about US$5M.
“With the current regulation, where CO2 is the only gas included in the EEDI, we meet all the requirements and we get the certificate saying that we have a 25% lower EEDI, but we will not save any greenhouse gases at all.
“Business for manufacturers of these engines is booming, but we’re not actually achieving our climate target. We’re on totally the wrong track,” warned Dr Lindstad, adding: “Commercially, it makes sense. But we’re not having this debate about what makes commercial sense. It’s about the need to try to limit global warming.”
“The basic message is large diesel engines with scrubber and EGR, and after-treatment of the exhaust gas, allow us to run the engine on HFO and meet all the emission regulations” Elizabeth Linstad (Norwegian research institute SINTEF)
By using HFO along with scrubbers, exhaust-gas recirculation systems and improved ship design such as hydrodynamic enhancement and high-efficiency hullforms, fuel consumption could be reduced by 10%-20%, with comparable reductions in GHG emissions, meaning such setups can play a part in reaching IMO’s 2050 targets. Dr Lindstad added: “The basic message is large diesel engines with scrubber and EGR, and after-treatment of the exhaust gas, allow us to run the engine on HFO and meet all the emission regulations.”
But a high-pressure dual-fuel LNG engine operating on the diesel principle, while more expensive than low-pressure Otto dual-fuel LNG, not only meets all regulations but gives a 15% GHG emissions reduction on its own, Dr Lindstad explained. When combined with more slender hullforms and hydrodynamic design, it can reduce fuel consumption by 10%-20%, depending on ship type, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25%-35%, also making a key contribution to IMO’s 2050 goals.