Marine Transportation System

Archive for July, 2010|Monthly archive page

The Grass is Greener — Pt. 3

In Efficiency, Energy/Environ, Green Transportation on July 28, 2010 at 8:26 am

Here in the U.S. some vessels may qualify as green or, in the instance of refitted tugs and ferries by the Port Authority of NY & NJ to mitigate against dredge emissions for a major deepening project, are greener than they once were.  Then there’s the Foss Marine hybrid tug that was built with help from the Port of Long Beach.  And there are the efforts in the Port of Los Angeles which along with POLB has a multifaceted vessel emissions reduction program including regulation, financial inducements, technology demonstrations, and infrastructure investments.  What the U.S. government is doing to support technology improvements as part of an energy/environment policy is not readily apparent.  Lest we be satisfied that all is well in America let’s peer across the pond to Norway and see….ships powered by LNG and fuel cells.

LNG-powered ship nominated for ‘Ship of the Year’

A liquefied natural gas (LNG)-powered ship has been nominated for the “Ship of the Year 2010″ award by Skipsrevyen, a Norwegian maritime publication.

The KV Bergen, and its sister vessels KV Barentshav and KV Sortland, “are by far the world’s most energy efficient and environmentally friendly coast guard vessels,” said a statement from Norwegian shipbuilder Kleven Maritime.

According to the company, the vessels use LNG as a primary source of fuel.  In addition, the vessels are equipped with large capacity marine diesel oil (MDO) engines to ensure high speed (maximum 20 knots) and towing performance when required.

“This, along with an optimized hull with very low resistance through the water again optimises fuel consumption during the vessels main operations – patrolling at low speed in rough waters,” the statement added.

“The reduction in NOX emission when using LNG is measured at around 90% compared to MDO, likewise the reduction in CO2 emission is measured at 25%.”

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From Eidesvik Offshore of Norway

“Launched in 2003, the FellowSHIP project began with a feasibility study and completed basic design and development of fuel cell technologies for vessels by 2005. In 2006, the JIP began development of an auxiliary electric power pack (320kW) fueled by LNG, which was successfully installed in September aboard the OSV Viking Lady…   The third and final phase of the project, intends to be testing, qualifying and demonstrating a main fuel cell electric system…

“The success of the project so far has raised expectations that fuel cell technology is close to a commercial application and has resulted in a regulatory review to establish frameworks for moving the technology forward.

“The FellowSHIP project was developed in response to rising concerns about the environmental impact of harmful emissions to air, including NOx, SOx, and CO2. ….

“With new tougher, emissions regulations now being considered by the IMO and EU, demand for commercial alternatives to traditional onboard power systems has risen. Fuel cell technology is not expected to manage the issue alone, but the technology represents a vital piece of the puzzle in certain shipping segments, such as short sea, local port traffic, commuter ferries and cruise ships and offshore, among others…”

The FellowSHIP project is a Joint Industry Project with Norweigian and German support.

An Opportunity, Not Just An Optimist’s Musing

In Green Transportation, Marine Highway, Surface Transportation Policy on July 6, 2010 at 11:22 pm

I couldn’t pass up this tease question in an emailed promotion for a conference (in Marseille, if anyone has a spare ticket on the QM2 to offer a humble blogger).

Is Climate Change a challenge or an excellent incentive to facilitate the renaissance of the shipping and maritime industries?

Okay, I’ll bite.  My answer is yes.  It’s a challenge and it presents a generational opportunity that the maritime sector can’t afford to pass up.

Can climate change actions revitalize the shipping and maritime industries?  (Another question posed by the conference organizers.)   That not only is a timely question but it is the right question along with some others:

Will the American maritime sector will take proper advantage of the persistent national environmental and energy imperatives?  Will the U.S. industry only tinker around the edges of design and technology?  Or will it aggressively leverage global climate policy concerns to transform marine transport and services into  a new market opportunity?  Moreover, will the industry actually try to engage the interest of the US government in such a major transformation?

Marine transportation has some natural advantages.  It tends to avoid little things like 10-mile backups on the turnpike.  Its carrying capacity makes it the most efficient on a ton mile basis.  That efficiency can also mean some comparative environmental benefits, along with some less pleasing emissions.

But as we have seen those pluses are not sufficient to move UPS to adopt coastal water routes or to convince government to integrate marine highways into surface transportation policy.  Nor have various studies as to those benefits convinced shippers and other skeptics of Jones Act shipping.

After all, notwithstanding some attractive plans for new marine highway service, the industry has been slow to present concrete evidence that it has the will to leverage climate and energy policy drivers in order to bring about its own “renaissance.”  I reach once again for a convenient contrast: the railroads.

The Class Ones could see the time was ripe.   They have advertised the public benefits of  rail freight , they have  leveraged Federal support for the building of “green” locomotives, and they came up with a major bid to Congress,  anyone who would listen, for a 25 percent investment tax credit for infrastructure improvements to their systems.

I know none of this is simple stuff for the maritime sector.  And of course the economics are daunting to companies that operate on thin margins.  But does the industry–especially the US flag stakeholders–have a vision as to what it can be?   What the vessels can look like?  What cleaner fuels can be burned to make the environmental benefits of marine transport undeniable?   What visible improvements can be made to demonstrate that change is taking place to transform 20th century operations into 21st century wow!

As I have noted elsewhere in this blog, give the Sailor and the Secretary good reason to say “cutting edge” when talking about a vessel or a major advance in maritime goods movement.

We are handed an opportunity when Congress debates climate action measures and major reforms to energy policy.  Pbea

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