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TMCNet:  Interferry hears about green alternatives

[October 05, 2007]

Interferry hears about green alternatives

(Lloyds List Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge) RISING costs and environmental issues are two key challenges facing the ferry industry, members of ferry association Interferry have been told.

With the price of oil at such high levels, and with increasing pressure from consumers for measures to tackle climate change, a number of innovations for energy and the environment were put forward at the Interferry conference in Stockholm.


These included the use of hybrid electric ferries, liquefied natural gas powered ferries, fuel cell technology and emissions trading.

Australian company Solar Sailor has received many plaudits for its innovative wing design, which is mounted pivotally and can be angled to take advantage of both sun and wind.

Hybrid marine power and solar wing technology are, according to the company, suitable for a wide range of applications including ferries, private yachts and even tankers.

Solar Sailor already operates a ferry in Sydney Harbour under a six-year contract with Captain Cook Cruises, company founder Robert Dane told Interferry members.

The company has a contract to build a 149-passenger solar sail for Shanghai and is tendering for work in Hong Kong as well.

Mr Dane believed hybrid systems had many advantages and could use both electric and fossil fuel systems alongside solar and wind power.

Hybrids, he says, burn less fuel and 'we can switch over to zero emission mode but still do commercial speeds'.

There are challenges relating to the energy density of batteries to power the electric element.

'We need 1000% better batteries to get rid of fossil fuels,' Mr Dane said.

'If we can get a commercial fuel cell we will chuck our generators overboard.'

Mr Dane estimates that the Solar Sailor design can run at speeds of five to six knots on solar power and 10 knots on wind power, giving a combined speed of 15 knots, although the ferry inSydney Harbour has reached speeds of 10 knots.

He told delegates that hybrids also used less power than a conventional vessel when manoeuvring and docking.

Norwegian ferry operator Fjord1 Fylkesbaatane has opted for LNG fuel on two lines in the country.

The company's Hallgeir Kleppe said the new ferries had capacity for more than 200 cars and travelled at a maximum 24 knots.

The ferries offered improved capacity and maintenance could be carried out during normal operations at sea, Mr Kleppe said, with 'off hire planned for only a few days a year'.

Use of LNG had meant a considerable reduction in emissions, including a 90% reduction for NOx and no SO? or particulate matter emissions, he said.

Although the ferries were 10%-15% more expensive to build, they benefitted from a low tax regime for LNG compared with diesel.

Another option for future energy convention in ships is fuel cell technology, and considerable energy and emissions savings are possible with even a small amount of fuel cell capacity, says Dr Gerd Wursig of Germanischer Lloyd.

Fuel cells needed high quality fuel, he told delegates, but a wide range of fuel solutions were possible, including hydrogen, LNG, propane, butane, methanol or diesel 'if you can guarantee purity', although storage implications might limit the use of hydrogen.

The International Maritime Organization was working on guidelines for the use of gas as ships' fuel, he said.

Benefits of fuel cells included low emissions, noise and exhaust fumes.

'Most pollution for shipping occurs close to the coast so auxiliary power is very important,' he told delegates.

However, he added that fuel cell technology was still in its infancy. Germanischer Lloyd is a partner in the Zemship (zero emission ship) project for Hamburg, which involves the development of a hydrogen-powered ferry for Hamburg's Alster lake.

The ferry will have a capacity of about 100 passengers and its own hydrogen fuel station. Entry into service is scheduled for May next year.

Dr Wursig expects fuel cell technology to be in use on larger vessels by about 2015-2020, with a number of projects using fuel cell technology already in the pipeline, including European Union-funded developments such as Felicitas and MC-WAP.

Dr Wursig said he did not know if there was a market for fuel cell systems, but it was worth remembering the remark attributed to IBM chairman Thomas Watson, who thought the world only needed five computers.

Bertil Arvidsson of the Swedish Shipowners' Association, said a recent report commissioned by the Swedish government suggested that a voluntary, open emission trading scheme should solve the emissions problem.

Emissions trading for SOx and NOx 'should be favourable for the industry', he told delegates.

Although emissions from ships only represented about 2% of the total, with land-based industry figures muchhigher, while emissions from land-based sources in Europe were decreasing for both NOx and sulphur dioxide, emissions from ships appeared to be increasing, he said.

Emissions trading would give owners an incentive to reduce emissions and he said a system could be implemented in both the North and Baltic Seas by 2012 that would meet environmental needsand reduce emissions to 'sustainable levels'.

'Every ship steaming in the emission trading area can participate,' he said.

He believed trading offered the best means of reducing emissions, avoiding the high cost of converting to distillate fuels, for example, and heading off local taxation, as had been the case in Norway.

Copyright 2007 Informa Maritime Trade and Transport , Source: The Financial Times Limited

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