An energy-efficient and environmentally-friendly oil tanker has sailed into the world’s shipping industry in an effort to reduce fossil fuel usage. Harnessing renewable wind energy and wave power, this carrier is expected to reduce average fuel consumption by almost 10 percent saving the atmosphere from over 2900 tons of CO2 emissions. Two pairs of massive sails are to thank for this progress towards a more sustainable global maritime cargo network.
The science and other stuff to know
Dubbed New Aden, presumably after the important seaport at the entrance to the Red Sea, these new generation ships were built for China Merchant Energy Shipping Co., Ltd (CMES). This designed draft helps the company meet the new emissions standards.
Each carrier is equipped with four rigid wing sails built to withstand the harsh marine environment. These 40-meter (130ft) sails weigh less, yet provide more strength with their carbon fiber composite material. The Aerofoil Sails Intelligent Control system adapts the vessel’s navigation to the current forecast through electric rotation and hydraulic lifts of the sails. It is user-friendly and monitors power supply and possible malfunctions.
Between 80-90 percent of our goods are carried across the world’s oceans. However, this critical industry belches 1 billion tons of carbon into the atmosphere annually, making it the sixth highest emitter of carbon in the world, after China. If no transitions to green infrastructure are made, shipping emissions are projected to increase by 90 percent or more by 2050.
Bulk carriers, container ships, and oil tankers are the top three emitters when it comes to shipping fleets, mostly due to their main engines feeding on heavy, tar-like leftovers from gasoline and diesel production. Furthermore, by weight, 40 percent of maritime trade consists of fossil fuels or their derivatives. All ships are currently dependent on this non-renewable energy. So, the New Aden ship, as a very large crude carrier (VLCC), is a foundational piece for this movement into sustainable trade.
In July 2021, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) adopted new short-term guidelines to cut carbon emissions by 40 percent by 2030 with the goal of a 70 percent reduction by 2050.
Significant investment is needed to move forward with this measure. To meet this goal, the first zero-carbon ships need to be assembled by 2030, which allows less than a decade for this innovation. Different green fuel alternatives, such as ammonia and hydrogen, are also in the debate, along with the electrification of fleets.
While the voyage to decarbonization is just beginning, the global shipping industry is on the right path to be a part of the climate solution.