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FASTWATER consortium fast tracks commercial pathway to climate neutral methanol as marine fuel

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FASTWATER consortium fast tracks commercial pathway to climate neutral methanol as marine fuel. Image: Port of Antwerp
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A consortium of Europe’s maritime research and technology leaders have launched the FASTWATER project to demonstrate the feasibility of retrofit and newbuild vessels to operate on methanol as a pathway to fossil-free shipping.

With funding from the European Commission, FASTWATER will focus on high impact outcomes, designing solutions for existing ships and designs for newbuildings, demonstrating methanol as a future-proof marine fuel to create a fast track to carbon neutral shipping.

Harbour tug, pilot boat, and coast guard vessel

The project aims to commercialise medium and high-speed methanol-fuelled engines for shipping.  Consortium members, including original engine manufacturers, shipyards, naval architects, ship owners/operators, port and maritime authorities, classification, fuel producers, and research institutes, will demonstrate feasibility on three vessels running on methanol fuel: a harbour tug, a pilot boat, and a coast guard vessel.

A conversion concept for a river cruise ship using methanol-driven propulsion will also be developed and a universal, scalable retrofit kit for converting diesel fuelled ships to methanol use for a wide power range (200 kW-4 MW) will be validated.

Not just a technical retrofit

In addition, FASTWATER will provide training programs for vessel crew and portside staff, develop rules and regulations for methanol marine fuel use, demonstrate the complete value chain for bunkering methanol – including net carbon neutral renewable methanol – elaborate a business plan, and identify CO2 and conventional pollutant reductions facilitated by the next generation methanol propulsion systems.

Members bring a strong track record

“The FASTWATER consortium members bring a strong track record with methanol projects to this effort, which will address current bottlenecks that are hindering the use of methanol as a fuel for waterborne transport,” said project manager Prof. Sebastian Verhelst of Lund University and Gent University.  “FASTWATER will put more methanol fuelled vessels on the water and showcase retrofit technologies that will serve as lighthouse projects supporting wider commercial introduction.”

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Unifeeder contracts We4Sea for fleetwide vessel performance monitoring

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Unifeeder contracts We4Sea for fleetwide vessel performance monitoring. Image: We4Sea B.V.
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Unifeeder A/S and We4Sea B.V. have signed a cooperation agreement to roll-out the We4Sea Digital Twin based performance monitoring solution across Unifeeder’s fleet. Aim is to reduce the ships’ fuel consumption and emissions.

The Unifeeder Group is an integrated logistics company with the largest feeder network and rapidly growing shortsea business in Europe, the Middle East, the Indian Subcontinent and South East Asia region with connectivity to more than 150 ports. 

Unifeeder plays a critical role as a facilitator of integrated global and regional supply chains, simplifying the complex tasks of choosing and managing supply chains by providing efficient and sustainable transport solutions. 

Michael Bonde, COO of Unifeeder, says: “Unifeeder wants to be an active participant in finding innovative solutions, through different partnerships and by being a business-driven IT organization. We are working with AI and machine learning platforms to provide significant operational benefits to our vessels and minimize the environmental impact.”

Digital Twin performance analysis

We4Sea focuses on increasing fuel efficiency and lower emissions of seagoing vessels by using a Digital Twin. The Twin provides shipowners and charterers with improved performance insights.

To generate the best results and increase fleet sustainability, Unifeeder and We4Sea  have agreed to roll out the monitoring solution across the entire Unifeeder group fleet. 

With its Digital Twin technology, We4Sea builds a digital sister vessel with all relevant technical characteristics of the real vessel. This data is enriched from other sources, such as data on speed, draught, weather conditions, wave heights, currents and wind.  

Optimising vessel efficiency 

The Digital Twin transforms this big data pool into actionable management information. The technology does not require onboard hardware installation  and is therefore ideal for charterers, such as Unifeeder. 

The solution supports full transparency. Charterers can continuously monitor fuel consumption, carbon and sulphur emissions of their chartered vessels in real-time via an online dashboard. 

Dan Veen, Co-founder and CEO of We4Sea, says: “Realtime monitoring and reporting is the first step in improving fuel-efficiency. Optimising fuel consumption of Unifeeder’s fleet based on the findings will not only have a direct impact on financial results, but also improves operational efficiency and CO2 and SOx reduction. We are looking forward to working with Unifeeder and getting results fast.”

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Port joins Hunter group pursuing United Nations sustainability goals

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Port joins Hunter group pursuing United Nations sustainability goals. Image: Port of Newcastle
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Port of Newcastle is one of seven Hunter institutions that have united to advocate for and drive local adoption of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

Group members – PON, City of Newcastle, Compass Housing Services, Hunter Water, Kumalie, Port Waratah Coal Services and University of Newcastle – have committed to raise awareness and actively implement the SDGs in the region.

Port of Newcastle’s Environment, Planning and Sustainability Manager, Jackie Spiteri, said the move was part of efforts to become a more sustainable and responsible organisation.

“The UN’s 17 SDGs form the blueprint for a better and more sustainable future for all by addressing the global challenges we face, including those related to poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental degradation, peace and justice,” Ms Spiteri said.

“We have joined other leading Hunter institutions to create a shared vision in this area, build our region’s capability and look at what that looks like in practice, including how that affects the supply chain, procurement and strategic direction of each party.”

Port of Newcastle last month released its 2019 Sustainability Report, which measures the organisation’s progress in achieving its sustainability commitments and its contribution towards the social, economic and environmental wellbeing of the Hunter and regional New South Wales.

It is also moving to 100% renewable energy by 2021 and is continuing to transition all its vehicles to electric by 2023.

Ms Spiteri said a STEM scholarship program for Aboriginal students, currently being developed through a partnership with University of Newcastle, and programs to promote the empowerment of women in maritime, were just part of the Port’s broader commitment to sustainable and responsible operations.

“Minimising our environmental footprint, diversifying trade and creating a more resilient economy requires a determined, long-term effort, with co-operation between the Port and its stakeholders,” Ms Spiteri said.

“While we look to what the Port could be in the decades ahead, it is clear there are things we can do today to make the way we operate the port more sustainable and responsible.”

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Yang Ming fulfills green promise carbon emission reduced 51% in 2019

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Yang Ming fulfills green promise carbon emission reduced 51% in 2019. Image: Flickr/ JAXPORT
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To achieve the pursuit of global sustainability and respond to customers’ growing awareness about environmental issues, Yang Ming Marine Transport Corp. formulated plans to build an echo-friendly fleet a decade ago with the aim to proactively enhance ship energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emission.

In 2019, Yang Ming fleet’s average carbon intensity (CO2 emissions per transport work) per Teu/Km significantly reduced by 51% compared with the level in 2008, from 99.4 g/teu-km to 48.1 g/teu-km, accomplishing the IMO target of reducing carbon intensity by at least 40% by 2030, eleven years ahead of schedule. Through continuous fleet optimization, Yang Ming has fulfilled its promise of energy saving and emission reduction.

GHG emission plays a critical role in climate change mitigation. In this respect, IMO has adopted strict regulations to address the issue and set the goals to cut global shipping carbon intensity by at least 40% by 2030 and 70% by 2050 when compared to 2008.

To achieve the targets, Yang Ming has formulated several long-term strategies, including implementing 12 vessel modification and optimization projects, and accelerating the vessel renewal plan by eliminating vessels over 20 years of age and adding ten 2,800 TEU class, twenty 14,000 TEU and fourteen 11,000 TEU class echo-friendly smart vessels.

In addition, Yang Ming has cooperated with weather service provider Weathernews Inc. to build a monitoring system to manage fuel consumption and reduce GHG emission, and further evaluate the possibility of developing duel-fuel engine such as LNG or other engines that can perform with carbon-neutral alternative fuels.

As for sulphur oxide emission, Yang Ming ensured an early transition to use low sulfur fuel oil at Kaohsiung port and Shenzhen port in 2018. In the fourth quarter of 2019, Yang Ming’s fleet has switched to very-low sulphur fuel oil with sulphur content lower than 0.5% and reduced sulphur oxide emission by 80% compared to traditional heavy fuel oil.

Furthermore, Yang Ming has actively participated in vessel speed reduction programs initiated by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Taiwan International Ports Corporation, LTD to well protect the marine ecology.

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