Without major technology advances before 2023 shipping companies will struggle to meet IMO’s 2050 target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions
Volume and emission growth projections by CMA CGM show the full scale of the challenge IMO’s 2050 greenhouse gas reduction target poses for shipping. The shipowner’s emissions would be between 39% and 61% above the target, which calls for at least a 50% reduction in total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (compared to 2008 levels), according to analysis presented at CIMAC World Congress by CMA CGM efficiency and technology manager Philippe Renaud.
“Based on today’s available technologies, it may be possible to achieve a relative emission’s reduction of 50% provided that the research and development not only remains at the same level but accelerates,” said Mr Renaud. “But to reach an absolute reduction of 50% [will] require a major technology breakthrough that is still not identified today.”
The introduction of slow steaming from 2009 highlighted the impact of operations on GHG emissions, he said, with reductions of around 30% achieved only by reducing speed.
“The brightest energy saving projects can be made ineffective due to major changes in the operation profile”
“Nine years later we can see that this major change in industry practice has created a new approach of container ships’ specifications and design. Hull and engines are now reviewed to cope with a broad profile instead of a single optimal point. The drawback is that some major energy saving potential, like waste heat recovery, loses efficiency with such a varied engine load.”
Mr Renaud argued that if lines can again change their operational practices to target radically lower emissions, further cuts could be achieved. But vessels are not operated in an isolated environment, he said.
“Field experience has shown that the brightest energy saving projects can be made ineffective due to major changes in the operation profile. To be solid, a low GHG operation shall also include ports and terminal organisation,” he added.
CMA CGM used trade and population growth projections as a base for its new analysis. Based on cargo volume and emissions data from 2015 and 2016 – when volume increases were driven by efficient new vessels being added to the fleet – it assumed that for every percentage of volume growth, GHG emissions would increase by 0.32%.
The potential for reducing emissions using today’s technology varies across the fleet, Mr Renaud explained. Emission-free sailing could be possible for container feeders before 2050 based on current battery projects. Vessels of up to 3,999 TEU could also achieve emissions reductions of between 14% and 40% of 2008 levels by 2050 through the use of biofuels. And ultra large container ships promise emissions reductions due to economies of scale cutting emissions per container and the potential for optimising speed.
However, CMA CGM believes there are limited opportunities to cut emissions on ocean-going vessels of 7,500-15,000 TEU, which are expected to account for more than 60% of the line’s fleet by 2050.
“It is a challenging class as even if their fleet deployment may always include one or more major ports, these ports may change. A specific energy source may be difficult to secure while changing trade. Other hurdles are also the distance between two ports, the deadweight of such vessels and the number of refrigerated containers onboard.”
Mr Renaud concluded that the lifetime of ships meant that a breakthrough technology would need to be ready by 2023 in order to be sailing from 2025 and have enough of an impact on emissions through fleet renewal until 2050.