Wartsila: “The Mere Existence Of Technology Does Not Decarbonise Maritime Alone”
Wartsila is positioned as a technology company looking to offer solutions towards the shipping industry’s decarbonization process. Which are the main “ingredients” of this undertaking?
The International Maritime Organization (IMO) regulation is a major driver for industry transformation. On April 2018, the IMO committed to reducing GHG by 40% by 2030 and total annual GHG emissions on a fleet level by at least 50% by 2050 compared to 2008. But due to an increasing number of vessels, by 2050 the increase should be 70% or even 80% on a vessel level.
In line with such targets, new short-term measures are set to come into force in 2023. All the vessels above a certain tonnage, new and old ones, will have to comply with newly introduced IMO sustainability indices, which will be used to assess the energy efficiency of both vessel designs and operations.
As maritime speeds towards decarbonisation, the biggest question of our time is not if or when, but how this will be achieved. The industry is experiencing an unprecedented era of change, but not one of uncertainty. What we need to do is certain and the time to act is now.
As a company with the most comprehensive portfolio at hand in the industry, Wartsila is turning technology into solutions to enable a sustainable maritime industry.
To drive sustainable shipping, elements like Fuel flexible systems, Energy saving technologies and electrification would take us to reduction in GHG level.
Wärtsilä does this by developing technology and fuel flexibility to create the path towards decarbonisation of the maritime industry. Our history of delivering innovations and industry firsts when it comes to fuel flexibility includes multi fuel technology.
Transition (with our multi-fuel technology) will not simply consist of a clean swap to one fuel or the other but will include fuel blends and drop-ins.
Wartsila’s approach to decarbonisation is to explore future fuel opportunities and methods to improve the efficiency of shipping through digitalisation – while also offering solutions that immediately increase the fuel flexibility and fuel efficiency of vessels. We can do this through engine upgrades and vessel retrofits, along with digital solutions based on connectivity that improve vessel efficiency. These measures also help our customers to comply with frameworks like the Poseidon Principles and Sea Cargo Charter to ensure continued access to finance and cargo.
Which solutions do you expect to become the most viable ones moving forward?
Today, there is no silver bullet to power a sustainable future, but certainties exist, and the solution will eventually include green fuels that today are not widely available. But just as important is the fact that collaboration in an ecosystem and co-creation of these solutions will be needed.
Wartsila is prepared to work with our customers to create a decarbonisation strategy. In practice, this means that we simulate solutions and map out a viable path towards decarbonisation for both retrofits and newbuilds based on the right solutions for the right vessel in the fleet.
Solutions focussing on both on new-build and lifecycle markets are from three perspectives:
1) Decarbonising shipping with fuel flexibility,
2) Energy saving devises, and
3) Electrification enabled efficiency improvement & possible low carbon footprint power sources.
The deliverables include preferred offering combinations and value propositions per vessel segments as well as tools for predicting offering impact on vessel indices.
Do you think that a proposed carbon levy could help speed up the process of shipping’s decarbonization?
We welcome any initiative that accelerates decarbonisation, both on land and sea as these are interconnected when it comes to e.g. fuel availability & infrastructure. I’d also stress here that the problem area is not the availability or maturity of the technology. The technology to drastically reduce emissions already exists today. The challenge is not downstream, it is upstream. Today, we already have the know-how and the technology to drastically reduce maritime emissions and set the industry on an upgrade path towards complete decarbonisation. But the mere existence of technology does not decarbonise maritime alone – action from both the market and regulatory side of the maritime industry is crucial to incentivise investment, build infrastructure, favour the development of the needed fuel supply chain, and legislate to accelerate the adoption of these technologies. Decarbonising maritime will take more than technology.
Fleet emissions will have direct consequences on access to capital (e.g. Poseidon Principles), on chartering conditions with Sea Cargo Charter, and even on operating expenses (OPEX) due to the introduction of the carbon tax.
Businesses and consumers will take steps, such as switching fuels or adopting new technologies, to reduce their emissions to avoid paying the tax.
Thus, carbon tax could be higher incentive for businesses to avoid the use of fossil fuels and would act as a pressure for fast energy transition process. Also, this would encourage R&D spending for renewable energies.
Dealing with ship owners, which are their main concerns when trying to select a new technology/fuel?
To comply with the IMO target, radical change is needed, in terms of both vessel design and power generation. However, the main challenge is fuel – and the related global investments in its production and infrastructure.
There are uncertainties around every prospective fuel, including when and where they will be available and at what price. Building fuel flexibility into new vessels – and, where appropriate, retrofitting flexible powerplants in older vessels – offers a hedge against these risks.
To manage this risk, it’s essential that ship owners prepare to build fuel flexibility into their vessels. To reach the targets set out in the Paris agreement and the IMO’s 2050 strategy, players in the marine industry need to start acting now.
Future fuel choices are one of the key challenges. The question remains which will be commonly available in the future. Fleet owners are faced with a multitude of options: alternatives such as ammonia, hydrogen, methanol, biofuels, bio-liquid fuels, bio gases, synthetic fuels. The selection is made more complex by their diverse stages of market readiness and the infrastructural requirements before any could be viable for maritime.
The transition (with our multi-fuel technology) will not simply consist of a clean swap to one fuel or the other but will include fuel blends and drop-ins.
With ESG assuming a more prominent role in shipping companies’ daily operations, how can Wartsila contribute to the new strategies needed to form a clear ESG platform?
In shipping industry, like other industries, ESG reporting covers topics such as GHG emissions, other pollutants to air, ecological impacts, business ethics, employee health and safety. The demand for clean and flexible energy and need for efficient and safe transportation are increasingly affecting the way shipping companies operate.
Wartsila has a strong presence in key markets and a superior global service network. An integrated portfolio of services, systems, and products that covers its customer’s need throughout the full lifecycle
positions Wartsila well to respond to the demand for energy efficient and innovative solutions. Emphasis is given to optimising performance through upgrades, modernisations, fuel conversions, and safety solutions, using data analytics and artificial intelligence to support customer’s business decisions. Customer value creation through collaboration and knowledge sharing are also key components in Wartsila’s innovation activities.
By applying smart technology and performance optimisation services, Wartsila delivers greater efficiencies, a minimised climate impact, and higher level of safety to the shipping industry. This will result in more sustainable, safe, and profitable operations for ship owners and operators around the world.
We are unequally positioned thanks to our broad portfolio of decarb solutions, in-house experts, and digitalisation to be able to advise our customers on what steps to take to decarbonise their operations, thereby reaching sustainability targets.
Wartsila is also walking the talk as a company. We are not just enabling our customers to operate sustainably but have ourselves committed to carbon neutrality by 2030. Wartsila has announced its “Set for 30” commitment towards achieving ambitious climate targets. Wartsila’s goal is by 2030: To become carbon neutral in its own operations, and to provide a product portfolio which will be ready for zero carbon fuels.
Nikos Roussanoglou, Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide