A bold new era of low-carbon shipping

article picture: A bold new era of low-carbon shipping


With the onset of new and stricter regulations for limiting carbon emissions of maritime vessels, the shipping companies are preparing for low-carbon seafaring. Meanwhile, new and innovative technologies for reducing CO2 greenhouse gas emissions of ships are being constantly developed.

Oa global scale, ship emissions add up to approximately three percent of CO2 greenhouse gases released to the atmosphere.

”Recently, new regulations and requirements have been drafted with regard to greenhouse gas emissions of maritime vessels,” notes Mr. Olli Kaljala, Marine Chief Executive for Finland and Baltic States at Bureau Veritas.

”For one thing, European Union has published the MRV (Monitoring, Reporting and Verification) Regulation. Furthermore, International Maritime Organisation IMO has drawn up new goals for reducing CO2 emission levels for ships.”


The EU Commission’s meaning was to create MRV to enable data collection and reporting of maritime emission data. The MRV regulation has been enforced since 2018.

”Data on ship emissions is to be reported annually and archived,” specifies Kaljala.

The specific dates for annual reporting are coordinated. Once a year, a heap of reports arrives at the offices of Bureau Veritas and other classification bureaus for perusal and recording.

As things stand, the MRV regulation does not yet define the maximum level of CO2 emission that is allowed for the ships. However, CO2 emissions are juxtaposed with the amounts of transported goods, with the goal of improving the efficiency of maritime transports.

”Stricter regulations for emissions are to be expected in the near future. At that stage, vessels will be required to operate within permitted emission levels,” Kaljala says.

The data collected in accordance with MRV regulations can be helpful when practical applications for reducing maritime greenhouse gas emissions are contemplated.

The MRV regulation affects all maritime traffic to and from EU ports, regardless of the ship’s flag country.



To minimise CO2 emissions, ships will undoubtedly need new fuels and fuel technologies, as well as exhaust-gas cleaning devices.

”Additionally, ships may benefit from hybrid solutions, such as utilisation of wind turbines as secondary power units. A number of these types of solutions for low-carbon maritime traffic are already in use,” Kaljala points out.

”IMO is set on reducing all maritime CO2 emissions by at least 50 percent by the year 2050. This will require a wide range of different kinds of engineering feats, in the short and long term.”

According to Mr. Kaljala, new technologies will be developed as new rules and regulations for low-carbon shipping keep emerging.

”Eventually, the best practices and techologies will become the standard. Some of them will be incorporated into future maritime regulations.”


Various cruise lines have also started implementing Ship Energy Management Plans to reduce CO2 emissions and to improve energy efficiency in seafaring. The plan aims at reducing carbon emissions by 30 percent by the year 2025.

On the engineering side, new technologies for low-carbon shipping are constantly being developed and tested.

A consortium led by the University of Vaasa – on the west coast of Finland – is engaged in a project to reduce shipping emissions by bringing low-carbon energy forms and various technologies to vessels, as well as developing the way vessels are designed and operated. These energy forms include hydrogen, wind power, electric batteries, heat-recovery technologies, plus air lubrication and new anti-fouling technology.

The consortium is about to receive significant funding from the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme for this research project called CHEK, with the stated aim of de-carbonising shipping by enabling key technology and innovative ship design.

participants are World Maritime University, Wärtsilä, Cargill, MSC Cruises, Lloyds Register, Silverstream Technologies, Hasytec, Deltamarin, Climeon, and BAR Technologies.



The results of the project will eventually be field-tested on two vessels. One of them is the bulk carrier ’Cargill,’ making use of wind energy by utilising a sail. Another vessel in the pilot tests is an MSC Cruises passenger ship to be equipped with a hydrogen-powered ship engine that will be designed during the project.

According to researchers, the use and symbiosis of new innovative technologies can reduce as much as 99 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, achieve energy savings of up to 50 percent, and also reduce black carbon emissions by more than 95 percent.

Such innovative technologies will not simply be stacked onto vessels. The project will also develop the Future-Proof Vessel (FPV) Design Platform for charting the design of future low-carbon and energyefficient ships.

The new type of ship platform will provide the means to combine new technologies as favourably as possible so that they will be able to work together in the best possible way.

Text by Ari Mononen

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