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Anders Ørgård, CCO of OSK-ShipTech, says shipping must focus on the CO2 emissions generated during vessel construction, as well as the direct emissions produced by energy consumption.

OSK-ShipTech has been involved in the design process of many Ro-Pax ferries in terms of the transition to alternative fuels and battery propulsion. However, the company has highlighted that while addressing direct CO2 emissions should remain a priority, shipowners ‘cannot turn a blind eye’ to the indirect contributors of CO2 emission associated with the manufacture of components used in ship, and the vessel construction process itself.

A recent study conducted by the consultancy indicated that for a full-electric ferry, powered by climate-friendly electricity, non-operation-related CO2 emissions could reach well in excess of 55% of the total CO2 emissions produced during the ship’s 20-year life cycle.

‘Rather than exclusively focusing on the emissions from operations, shipowners should make a cradle-to-grave life cycle analysis,’ said Ørgård.

‘A life cycle analysis offers the opportunity to develop a build strategy, reducing the emissions during both construction and operation, thus further optimising the ship’s operational life.’

The study comes on the back new guidelines from the Danish consumer ombudsman, which were released in December 2021. According to the new guidelines, statements such as ‘emission-free’ and ‘climate-neutral’ should be fully documented through a product’s entire life cycle by use of life cycle analyses which is verified by experts.

OSK-ShipTech’s study included a life cycle assessment of Fanølinjen’s 2021-built, full-electric ferry, Grotte, a 50-metre-long double-ended RoPax vessel operating on the 12-minute Esbjerg-Nordby shuttle service. Notwithstanding the short distance it covers, GROTTE effectively sails 12 hours per day. The study is therefore representative of a large RoPax ferry with an equivalent daily operating time of at least 12 hours.

The assessment, which covered the six stages in a ship’s life, from the mining of the resources and processing of the steel to the recycling of the ship, was executed in line with ISO 14040 and ISO 14044 standards.

According to OSK-ShipTech, experience from operating full-electric ferries indicates that they operate for approximately 90-95% of the time on electricity and they also need backup power from other energy sources.

As per publicly available data, the electricity used to power Grotte has an emissions intensity of 0.0187kg CO2/kWh, compared to the 0.297kg CO2/kWh of the electricity generated from a typical mix of renewable and conventional energy sources (such as coal, wood chips, and natural gas) available on the grid.

OSK-ShipTech has calculated that during its entire lifespan, from cradle to grave, GROTTE will produce 2,508 tonnes CO2-equivalent (CO2e) from the ship’s operation, with 1,833 tonnes CO2e attributable to the manufacturing of the vessel.

As the ship and its materials will be recycled after demolition, scrapping of the vessel will have a positive CO2e footprint of 1,124.54 tonnes.

According to Ørgård, ‘Our analysis clearly illustrates that a zero-emission ship doesn’t exist at all.

‘To put it simply, one can no longer ignore the CO2 emissions generated from manufacturing, which can be more than 50% of the cradle-to-grave CO2 footprint in some cases.’

As the steel structure accounts for nearly 40% of the CO2 footprint in a ship’s construction, OSK-ShipTech suggests a strategy should be developed to focus on the hull and steel structure already in the design stage.

‘One should also consider the country of build,’ said Ørgård. “In many countries, steel production is coal-fired. As part of their build strategy, shipowners should equally consider where to build their ships and where to purchase the steel.’


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