The Head of Air Pollution and Energy Efficiency, Marine Environment Division of IMO;
We will see alternative fuels and energy sources in the future
According to the International Maritime Organization (IMO), emissions of sulphur oxides (SOx) are known to be harmful to human health and they contribute to ocean acidification. IMO regulations to reduce sulphur oxides (SOx) emissions from ships first came into force in 2005, under Annex VI of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (known as the MARPOL Convention). Since then, the limits on sulphur oxides have been progressively tightened.
From 1 January 2020, the limit for sulphur in fuel oil used on board ships operating outside designated emission control areas will be reduced to 0.50% m/m (mass by mass). This will significantly reduce the amount of sulphur oxides emanating from ships and would have major health and environmental benefits for the world, particularly for populations living close to ports and coasts.
In order to delve into this issue, Payam Darya magazine has conducted an exclusive interview with Dr. Edmund Hughes. You will find out the transcript of this interview in the following.
Despite criticisms and serious obstacles, Low-Sulphur Fuel Law will be certainly implemented in 2020, what plans does IMO have for assisting ship owners to comply with it?
The 0.50 percent limit for Sulphur content in ships’fuel oil will take effect on 1 January 2020 and will have a significant beneficial impact on human health and the environment.
In February, the Sub-Committee on Pollution Prevention and Response (PPR 6) agreed draft guidelines for consistent implementation of the 0.50% Sulphur limit under MARPOL Annex VI, together with other relevant guidelines, forming a comprehensive package of new and updated instruments that will assist industry and administrations to effectively and uniformlyimplement the 0.50% Sulphur limit.
Small shipping companies will face challenges to comply with low-Sulphur Fuel Law, especially in installing scrubbers which is a costly alternative. they may not operate some of their vessels, what recommendations do you have for these companies?
Ship owners are not required to fit scrubbers to their ships. Ship owners will need to assess the best option for them. We know from forecasts that the majority of ships will use Low Sulphur Fuel Oil to meet the requirement. We know from refineries and bunker suppliers that new blends of Low Sulphur Fuel Oil will be made available during 2019.
IMO cannot give specific recommendations to individual ships or ship owners. These are commercial decisions that the ship owner needs to make.
The ship owner needs to liaise with the flag State for approval, if wishing to install an alternative means of compliance, such as an exhaust gas cleaning system (“scrubber”).
Considering the significance of environmental issues, what is your prediction about the future? Can we expect new fuels in the shipping industry?
It is hard to predict the future! But IMO Member States have adopted an initial strategy on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from ships. This initial strategy sets out a vision to reduce the total annual GHG emissions at least 50% by 2050 compared to 2008, while, at the same time, pursuing efforts towards phasing them out entirely, as soon as possible in this century.
To achieve these ambitions, we will need to see new fuels, zero or low carbon fuels, and new innovations and technology. We can see some electric and hybrid ships on short-sea crossings, so I do believe that yes we will see alternative fuels and energy sources in the future.