By Adekunle Segun
While shipping remains the mitochondron of world trade and various tonnes of cargo and lightweight are being transported to different parts of the world on a daily basis, it will be very erroneous to say that there have been no adverse impacts or significant depletion of the marine environment due to the activities of these sea steel giants. For the purpose of our discourse, which is ‘Energy Efficiency’, we can say that a ship is a bundle of various forms of energies. These energies are required to keep the vessel functioning and consequently keep the cargo moving. However, the concept of Energy Efficiency came on board as a means to reduce emissions from ships. These emissions include carbon dioxide and other classes of Greenhouse gases (GHG). These gases have become a very serious source of worry to various local and international organisations engaged in ensuring a sustainable and habitable maritime environment.
What is Energy Efficiency on ships? Energy Efficiency is the comparative ration of carbon dioxide a vessel discharges into the atmosphere calibrated in tonnes. Energy Efficiency is based on the mile of work done by the subject vessel out of which we can then establish if the vessel is effectively utilizing her energy or otherwise. The concept of Energy Efficiency management has been at the fore of climate change and global warming discussion for a very long period. It is said that the world’s shipping industry is responsible for the largest greenhouse gas emission after those of various industrialised countries have been quantified. The gospel truth is shipping will continue to impact the world’s climate. In fact, we can empirically conclude that human activities will continue to impact the world’s environment; however, man can only slow down the rate of impacts or effects with every means available. This is what energy efficiency in shipping seeks to address.
Shipping and, by extension, international shipping, is a major factor in world trade. In fact, global trade and commerce is dead on arrival without incorporating the maritime arm of trade. Global trade and commerce depend on major international shipping line traders to continue to be relevant to humanity. In this regard, all over the world, huge revenues are being generated from shipping and maritime alone. From the earliest times, there have been countries whose major foreign exchange earnings are situated in maritime trade. The various waters of the world have served as a huge source of livelihood to different species of mother nature, it has also accommodated various man-made structures which have seen her concept of civilization spread across the world. However, man needs to actively take up responsibility and business of protecting the world’s waters from abuse due to the fact that the waters are also one of the major sources of survival on planet earth. The world’s waters house a huge source of nutrition to man which if not effectively protected through conscious legislations and responsible actions we may not have a life sustaining maritime environment in the nearest future.
With continuous increase in the world shipping fleet the International Maritime Organization (IMO) resolution A.963 (23) took the bull by the horns to address the growing rate of GreenHouse Gas (GHG) emissions from vessels . A work plan with a specific timeline to erect the needed measures to address GHG was birthed. Though this is quite pronounced when we compare the same with shipping practice, it has become more than significant to put this into operation and save our precious marine environment. Like I stated previously, the world may not be able to totally eradicate GHG; however, we have the pressing responsibility to reduce it to the lowest levels. There is the need to see how various forms of CO2 emissions released into the atmosphere can be converted to other uses on board; which will in turn benefit not only the climate and atmosphere but the vessel owners, managers and operators.
Let us imagine a situation where gases from the exhaust of a ship are diverted to fire a certain turbine onboard the same ship in order to provide power to the generators, which in turn leads to lighting onboard the ship. This will significantly reduce the cost of fuel and other factors that go to running the auxiliary machines onboard. A typical ship can be regarded as a moving house or community based on the size and dimensions and moving such an edifice requires a lot of energy. The energy efficiency drive seeks to reduce and maximize the amount of energy consumption being used by these vessels. Energy Efficiency cannot be predicated on the operations of the maritime industry alone. There is the need to make it attractive and profitable in order to make the various maritime gladiators embrace and see it as a means of reducing the operational, technical and financial burden of maritime business. The IMO has the responsibility to make this concept market friendly. If the energy produced from a ship’s main engine is channeled to other needs like powering the cooling system, workshop machinery, amongst others, there will be a lot of energy and resources conservation on the part of owners and operators of various maritime fleets.
Another area where energy efficiency needs to be closely observed is the area of compliance on the part of the owners, crew and the vessel. Though IMO has released a thorough audit process, vessels owners and crew still need to guarantee unfettered access to their facilities to ensure compliance with this all important drive. Successful audits have so far been recorded and more audits are still needed to be carried out with the audit process constantly modified to suit the purpose for which it is created. However a lot more needs to be done; like incorporating how well a government or subregion fleet is performing on the energy efficiency chart. This is expected to include what the governments of various countries and states are doing to reduce CO2 emissions amongst others.
Thank you very much for your time.
• Adekunle Segun is a maritime professional…He writes from Lagos; Nigeria.