Improving environmental performance

Elly Yates-Roberts looks at some of the companies, products and technologies that are helping ship operators to reach sustainability targets and reduce their environmental impact

Improving environmental performance
Cruise and ferry lines have committed to meeting sustainability targets

Sustainability continues to guide many business conversations. Organisations worldwide are taking stock of their operations and exploring what they can do to improve them in line with environmental targets. 

In July 2022, Carnival Corporation released its 12th annual sustainability report, which highlighted its commitment to reduce its carbon emission intensity by 2030 and to achieve net carbon-neutral ship operations by 2050. MSC Cruises, Royal Caribbean Group and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings also aim to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, with the latter also investing in carbon offset schemes.  

Ferry lines are also part of the change. Swedish firm Stena Line aims to reduce its carbon emissions by 30 per cent and launch its first emission-less ferry by 2030, and Canada-based BC Ferries has transitioned to using renewable electricity sources for its shore operations and as part of its shore power connections.  

Alongside this, many other stakeholders in the cruise and ferry industries have been creating and implementing solutions to make things better.  

A lot of this happens in the behind-the-scenes operations of cruise ships and ferries. Onboard water usage, responsible waste handling, efficient energy use and alternative energy sources – these are just some of the ways that organisations are helping to meet the regulations set out by the International Maritime Organization (IMO).  

The Bahamas Maritime Authority (BMA) has a vested interest in ensuring the success of these IMO sustainability goals. In fact, it is an ambassador for two organisations at the forefront of marine protection: the North American Marine Environment Protection Association and Eyesea, which maps global pollution with maritime hazards. “At the regulatory level, we are also part of a group of experts convened by the Cruise Ship Safety Forum to analyse alternative Carbon Intensity Indicator calculation metrics that will drive continued reduction in carbon intensity,” says Captain Ghulam Hussain, deputy director of maritime affairs at The BMA. “The group, whose work should be complete by 2026, will discuss guiding principles, review potential alternative metrics and share technical and operational knowledge.” 

A precious resource 

In order to provide drinking water on these vessels, operators must store fresh water in holding tanks or convert salt water into potable water. Both approaches have their limitations. The first is hindered by the rising price of fresh water and the restricted capacity of holding tanks, while the second is hampered by the need to use more fuel during the salt-water conversion process, which increases costs and emissions. 

Operators must also consider the logistics and impact of storing and disposing of wastewater. A cruise ship carrying 2,000 passengers and 600 crew members can use over 63,000 litres of water per day, just to flush toilets. Sanitary product provider Waterless Co believes a simple solution to this problem is to use less water, particularly via urinals. 

“Waterless Co urinals are the best as they do not use any water, saving vessels approximately 155,000 litres of water per urinal, per year,” says Klaus Reichardt, founder and CEO at Waterless Co. “These urinals also require less maintenance and are more hygienic because there is no water where bacteria can grow.” 

As water becomes an increasingly precious commodity and marine ecosystems continue to decline, ship operators must also find new methods for managing ballast water. Often, seawater is taken on while in one port, stored in the bottom of the ship to act as a stabiliser, and then discharged in another port. As a result, ballast water can transfer organisms and bacteria between marine habitats, which can have detrimental effects on the ecosystem. Organisations worldwide are working to address these issues. For example, France-based BIO-SEA by BIO-UV Group has developed a solution to prevent this by using a combination of mechanical filtration and ultraviolet disinfection.  

British firm Chelsea Technologies also supplies environmental compliance monitoring systems including ballast water testing and exhaust wash water monitoring systems. Its Sea Sentry scrubber wash water monitoring system measures the water inlet and outlet of wet exhaust gas scrubber systems, enabling cruise and ferry operators to meet stringent environmental regulations.  

Fouling on hulls and in internal sea water systems can also impact marine ecosystems, as organisms that settle and grow in these areas are transported into new waters, posing a biosecurity risk. In response, anti-fouling expert EMCS Industries has developed the MARELCO Liberator to reduce the translocation of invasive species, while also increasing energy efficiency and minimising carbon emissions. The above-deck tank treats water with copper and aluminum ions and pulls seawater from the sea chest. “This innovative solution will help the industry’s efforts to meet two environmental goals: reducing pollution and improving biosecurity,” says Meghan Raza, marketing manager at EMCS Industries.  

Knowledge is power 

With over 60 years of experience, Ocean Technologies Group helps operators to meet their environmental compliance and performance goals through a suite of technology solutions across learning, assessment, crew and fleet management. The firm provides maritime professionals with high-quality data that enables them to make smarter decisions, optimise efficiency and reduce negative environmental impacts. It achieves the latter by sharing information on waste and ballast water management, emissions reduction, greener fuels and energy-efficiency measures. 

Waste not, want not  

Norwegian firm Delitek has created multiple wet and dry waste management solutions that ensure cruise ships and ferries comply with the strictest of regulations, including in areas with no discharge and zero-emission requirements. It does this through, for example, extreme volume reduction to ensure the lowest possible waste handling expenses and minimal environmental footprints. 

A significant amount of the perishable food onboard a ship can end up being wasted, and many organisations are devising innovative ways to reduce this figure. Luftansa Industry Solutions uses computer vision-based artificial intelligence (AI) to monitor buffets in real time. Based on the collected data, the technology can recommend ways to reduce waste and provide accurate predictions for menu planning and provisions handling, as there is an additional energy cost associated with transporting food that will not be eaten.  

Canadian firm Terragon is also working in this space, transforming waste into energy with its Micro Auto Gasification System (MAGS). Already widely used on passenger ships, MAGS converts combustible materials – such as paper, plastics, food, oily rags, oils and sludges – into thermal energy, while sterilising inorganic waste. In doing so, Terragon enables users to generate over 2,400 kilowatt-hours of energy per tonne of combustible material each day.  

A newly energised industry 

While converting waste into biofuel is an effective waste and energy management solution, other organisations are helping cruise and ferry operators to reduce their overall fuel usage. For example, Stockholm-based Blueflow Energy Management provides graphical interfaces and powerful online reporting to help operators reduce fuel use by 5-25 per cent depending on ship type and size. 

IoCurrents, on the other hand, uses machine learning and AI to help ship operators optimise fuel consumption, reduce emissions, predict equipment failures, and improve maintenance plans. Its data analytics platform – MarineInsight – aggregates and analyses data from onboard equipment sensors and sends emails regarding mission-critical alerts and standard operating procedures to crew to enable real-time decision-making. 

The transition to electric energy is underway, and many organisations are helping cruise and ferry lines accelerate this shift. Swedish firm METS Technology specialises in electrical systems and automation and has become an expert in retrofitting passenger ferries to run on electricity. “We are convinced that most future short-sea shipping and in-land navigation will occur with electric vessels,” says Per-Erik Larsson, commercial director at METS Technology. “The lessons from retrofitting existing vessels with dual-power systems will be critical for the design of the fully electric vessels of the future.” 

EST-Floattech has a similar idea and is manufacturing and delivering marine battery systems to help operators improve their environmental performance by reducing the emission of carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxides. In addition to these benefits, the batteries also reduce noise pollution and EST-Floattech has implemented buy-back and recycling options to further reduce clients’ environmental footprints.  

Canadian company Shift Clean Energy is also modernising electric and hybrid vessels with its own energy storage solution that helps operators move towards zero emissions. Its PwrSwäp service allows operators to use batteries on a pay-as-you-go plan. Once the batteries run out, they can be swapped out for fully charged ones, helping to the reduce the cost, size, weight and charging times of typical energy storage solutions.  

Safer seas 

As propulsion technologies become more sustainable, so too should the safety procedures surrounding them, according to Bureau Veritas. The testing, inspection and certification organisation helps its clients assure quality, reduce costs, increase productivity and foster a more responsible, sustainable culture. “With rules and guidelines for new propulsion, support in evaluating technical and safety perspectives, and our ‘green line’ of services dedicated to sustainability, Bureau Veritas has solutions to help shape a safer, better maritime world,” says Andreas Ullrich, global market leader of passenger ships and ferries at Bureau Veritas.  

As we welcome the new era of sustainability, it is essential that other services – such as communications – also evolve. Telenor Satellite and its partners work together to drive smarter operations that help customers reduce their environmental footprints. Demand for real-time communications and system monitoring is expanding across all maritime sectors, with evident benefits. Constant access to the internet has become a must-have as it ensures safety, maximises operational efficiency, and improves route planning, thereby reducing fuel consumption.  

“Increased automation and the capability to perform inter-ship and ship-to-shore operations remotely – which facilitate sustainable technologies – require real-time data exchange,” says Julian Crudge, sales director of data services division at Telenor Satellite. “This can only be guaranteed through greater bandwidths and uninterrupted service, backed by the technical support of experienced connectivity providers.” 

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

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Elly Yates-Roberts
By Elly Yates-Roberts
16 September 2022

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