Building sustainably, one ship at a time

In this edition of the Green List, Michele Witthaus looks at how operators, naval architects, designers, shipyards and classification societies are improving the sustainability profile of contemporary passenger ships

Building sustainably, one ship at a time
Drone view of Turkey’s Tersan shipyard

Shipyards and operators are increasingly cooperating on ambitious green plans for the design and build of new vessels. Ultra-luxury brand Silversea Cruises has commenced construction on Silver Nova, the first ship in its Project Evolution series, at Meyer Werft in Papenburg. Set for delivery in summer 2023, Silver Nova will run on LNG as its main fuel but will use fuel cells and batteries when berthed to become the first hybrid, luxury cruise ship that is free of local emissions at port. “Our Nova-class ships represent a significant investment in unprecedented technological solutions. They support our mission to preserve the planet without compromising on comfort or luxury,” says Roberto Martinoli, president and CEO of Silversea Cruises.  

Another shipyard working on environmental solutions for the ultra-luxury market is T. Mariotti, owned by Genova Industrie Navali (GIN Holding). “The shipyard is contributing to improving the sustainability profile of contemporary passenger ships with the latest technologies to reduce impact on both air emission and sea pollution prevention,” says Paolo Trombetta, group marketing officer at GIN Holding. “Installation of underwater equipment also takes into consideration low noise equipment to safeguard sea mammals and marine life.” The company also specialises in waste water holding systems and alternatives to traditional ship incinerators and has delivered a new hybrid ferry to Italian Railways.  

Den Breejen Shipyard in the Netherlands is preparing for the future by working on multiple propulsion solutions including diesel-electric, biofuels and even fully electric river cruise vessels. “As a shipyard, Den Breejen not only stands out with contemporary ship designs, but also in showing the market that it can come up with creative and sustainable solutions,” says Johan Kaasjager, the shipyard’s commercial director. “A great example is our on-spec project Rheingold, a 135-metre river cruise vessel implementing the latest technologies like peak shaving, emergency batteries, EU Stage V certification and heat recovery.” 

The expedition market is of growing importance when it comes to applying sustainable ship design due to the fragile environments where these ships operate. Ulstein Verft in Norway works to reduce the vessels’ required energy for a minimal environmental footprint. All Ulstein designed vessels are developed to decrease fuel oil consumption. The integration of new technology, the right choice of equipment and hull optimisation are important aspects. The company’s distinctive X-BOW hull line design contributes to fuel savings in rough weather conditions. Ulstein Verft is renowned for delivering high-quality vessels on time, which helps to secure the shipowner’s success. 

Yards engaged in ferry construction are helping their customers make crucial emissions reductions on their routes. Over the past decade, Poland’s Remontowa Shipbuilding has built more than a dozen gas, hybrid and electric-powered vessels that meet stringent environmental standards. The company was awarded the Shippax Award 2021 for a battery hybrid car passenger ferry delivered to the Norwegian owner Norled. All projects are carried out in accordance with the European Union’s climate regulation package within the European Green Deal. 

Tersan Shipyard has completed construction of 10 environmentally friendly car and passenger ferries and one cruise vessel with three more cruise ships under construction. “All of these vessels have different energy solutions for sustainability,” says a spokesperson for the Turkish yard. “Some of them are 100 per cent battery powered, while others are hybrid vessels with LNG and battery propulsion. Besides their green power, the ship systems also focus on utilising energy via heat recovery systems and/or energy-efficient hull designs. The battery-powered vessels are charged from hydropower when they are berthed.”  

Wight Shipyard Co, located on the Isle of Wight, is constructing the UK’s first hybrid high-speed passenger ferries for Uber Boat by Thames Clippers. The new vessels will debut in London in autumn 2022 and spring 2023. The new ferries will operate solely on battery power while travelling in London’s central zone between the Tower and Battersea Power Station piers, switching to biofuel when outside of the central city area.  

Germany’s Flensburger Schiffbau-Gesellschaft (FSG) shipyard has developed a new ship design concept to create a competitive and future-proof transport solution for small and medium-sized ro-ros. Customisable to individual customer requirements and transport tasks, the basic design has an innovative general arrangement layout and propulsion concept that focuses on the most effective efficiency improvements without increasing capital expenditure, says Philipp Maracke, CEO of FSG. “Our in-house design and simulation tools allow for customised adaptions of the basic design for individual solutions that fulfil all customer requirements. Flexible options (LNG, batteries, alternative fuels) are available for upcoming regulatory or port restrictions.”  

Ship designers are uniquely placed to shape the environmental credentials of vessels. “When designing passenger ships, we have to focus on more aspects than when designing other vessel types,” says Finn Wollesen, managing director of Knud E. Hansen. “This includes flexible use and energy optimisation of hotel facilities, plus protection against viruses and diseases. Lightweight designs reduce emissions during operation as well as production-related emissions before the ship leaves the dock for the first time.” Virus control and flexible use are two aspects that have been implemented on the company’s concept design of the 150-metre Phoenix World Village Expedition Cruise vessel. 

Designers working on the interior aspects of the ship increasingly cooperate with the ship design teams on sustainability from the start of a project. “We embrace our influential role in this ecosystem and the responsibility we have as designers,” says Bente Medelbye Hansen, design director at Steen Friis Design. “To help assist shipowners make conscientious choices for their vessels’ interiors, we have developed The Sustainable Design Strategy. For every item specified, cradle-to-gate calculation of each chosen material or item can be provided. With this approach, we can calculate and evaluate the carbon dioxide emissions of the accommodation, which enables us to make a documented difference by selecting the least harmful materials available on the market.” 

Providers of new technologies for passenger ships are exploring new frontiers in the quest for lower emissions and greater efficiency. Independent consultant Foreship advises major cruise operators on the role of zero-emission fuel cells in ship propulsion. Its work includes analysis of a 77,000gt reference ship, evaluating the potential and limitations of polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells (PEMFCs) and fast-emerging solid oxide fuel cell (SOFCs). “The study shows fuel cells achieving electrical efficiency nine to 11 per cent greater than internal combustion engines,” says the company. “It also establishes the LNG+SOFC solution as two per cent more electrically efficient than PEMFC solutions.” 

By providing software, services and data analysis, maritime software, services and data analysis company NAPA enables the industry to harness data to design and operate the efficient, safe, and sustainable ships of the future. “NAPA Voyage Optimization is an intelligent voyage planning tool which calculates optimal routes and speed profiles from a number of variables ranging from weather conditions to the specific operational needs of vessels,” says Mikko Kuosa, CEO of the company. “NAPA’s stability solution ensures the safe and optimal planning of stowage, cargo and ballast to optimise the ship’s trim and reduce fuel consumption.” The company’s 3D models improve its capability to design more efficient ships and safely include innovative clean technologies, such as wind propulsion systems. 

Fuel tank technology company GTT says it is continuously adapting its technologies to meet the latest regulations and requirements of shipowners willing to decarbonise their fleets by using LNG, bioLNG and e-LNG as fuels. GTT also provides digital solutions to help cope with cost pressures due to high fuel consumption activities, fleet operational efficiency and future CII regulation.  

Classification societies are providing thought leadership and raising the bar for best practices in sustainable ship construction. Lloyd’s Register (LR) is helping to drive sustainability in the passenger ship sector as a trusted advisor to cruise operators, says Paul Carrett, the company’s digital communications lead. “In 2020, LR launched its Maritime Decarbonisation Hub, a platform to accelerate the safe and sustainable decarbonisation of the maritime sector through leadership, collaboration and evidence-based decision making. Through the work of the Hub, LR is assessing the technological, commercial and societal viability of multiple transition pathways, including the development of zero-emission vessels and new supply chains for zero-carbon energy sources.” 

Italy based classification society RINA is working on the new Grimaldi Green 5th Generation ferries ordered at China’s Jinling shipyard. The 12 vessels, five of which have already been delivered, feature innovative environmentally friendly solutions such as large-capacity batteries to achieve zero emissions in port, a peak shaving system, an air lubrication system, and solar panels. RINA assigned the ships the additional Green Plus class notation, the top RINA certification in the field of environmental sustainability. 

Among the support it offers the industry in the energy transition, classification society DNV lists the following: “Pioneering new class rules to prepare owners for the safe uptake of new fuels; fresh guidance on the pathway to 2050 via the annual launch of our flagship Maritime Forecast report; constantly evolving digital class services; advisory support on complex decision-making; and industry collaboration on trailblazing initiatives such as the Maritime Technologies Forum and the Global Centre for Decarbonization – designed to coalesce expertise from across the maritime supply chain to accelerate the safe uptake of zero-carbon fuels and technologies.”  

Bureau Veritas (BV) says it is helping stakeholders address risk while capturing the benefits of new technologies and fuels enabling optimal commercial and operational decisions. “To support safety and innovation, BV developed industry-first rules for ammonia as fuel, new methanol rules, modern rules for wind propulsion systems and rules for hydrogen to come in 2022,” says Andreas Ullrich, global market leader for passenger ships and ferries at Bureau Veritas. “Designers, shipyards, ship operators and regulators now have a BV future fuels framework, helping enable innovation to make it from the digital drawing board to a new, sustainable and safe reality.”

This article was first published in the Spring/Summer 2022 issue of Cruise & Ferry Review. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed. 

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Michele Witthaus
By Michele Witthaus
13 April 2022

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