Eco-Ships: All Marketing Spin or a Viable Concept?

The global merchant fleet is massive. Comprising of more than one hundred thousand different vessels, this veritable army of ships devours more than 250 million tonnes of fuel each year.

A single large-scale bulker can use up around forty tonnes in a day, adding up to more than ten thousand over a period of a year. If you look at the emissions, you’re looking at over thirty thousand tonnes of carbon dioxide (or CO2). All that, from a single ship.

A Clean Industry

That being said, you can’t fault the shipping industry for its efforts. Not only is it already looking in to making great strides toward being more environmentally friendly, but it is not what you could call a “dirty” industry in the first place.

In fact, going via container ship is actually the cleanest method of transporting goods – by a big margin. You can transport a shipment of trainers from one side of the globe to the other, and create less pollution than a short car journey.

Even so, the shipping industry has been looking into various ways of cleaning of their act even further, and the main development that has risen to the surface is that of the eco-ship. These ships are designed as a whole, using a holistic design that improves a number of features, working in tandem with a view to improve fuel efficiency and reduce emissions.

By taking this approach, the new designs stand to make much greater steps forward than by using individual improvements.

But are they up to the task?

Green on the Horizon

Because bunker fuel is a fossil fuel, it is non-renewable. This means that it’s going to run out at some point. Shipyards and ship owners can help stop the stocks from dwindling quite so swiftly by simply using less of it.

Already, 90 per cent of international trade is transported via boats and ships. And with populations only continuing to increase, we can expect to rely on container ships even more than we already do.

A while back, it was predicted that shipping’s emissions could have doubled by 2040. However, this prediction looks to be off by a long shot, thanks to the contributions being made by numerous shipping companies such as Maersk Line (click here for more on how they’re adapting for the environment, or click here for more information on marine suppliers).

In fact, Maersk Line have already made massive in-roads into sustainability – their Eugen Maersk has been equipped with low sulphur fuels, and their Triple-E line of ships are in production; the ultimate in fuel economy.

They had aimed for a reduction of 25% in their emissions by 2020, but they have already reached this goal; now, the target is 40%. An impressive start, and the industry is continuing to improve.

Even the tiniest uptick in fuel efficiency is going to be very attractive to those companies that pour millions of dollars into fuel, so you can rest assured that things are only going to keep on improving.

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