UK government urged to build demonstration ship using retrofitted sails

The UK’s Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) has a new report out containing recommendations for Boris Johnson and the International Maritime Organization (IMO) on the reduction of shipping emissions. It follows the recent announcement by the UK government that it will include international shipping within new national carbon emission targets.

In its report Accelerating Decarbonisation in Shipping: A No Regrets Approach Using Wind Power, IMechE calls for the government to support the development of a demonstration ship using retrofitted sails to help shipowners and charterers understand the business case for how wind could be used as a primary propulsion for cargo vessels. Emission reductions of up to 30% could be achieved under the right conditions, the study claims.

IMechE appeared to be critical of the shipping industry for focusing on developing alternative fuels, such as hydrogen and ammonia, to replace polluting bunker fuel. It noted that these fuels will be at least three times more expensive and will not be widely available for at least a decade.

In the new report, the authors also supported the calls for reductions in vessel speeds to improve fuel savings and reduce emissions.

Dr Jenifer Baxter, chief engineer at the institution, commented on the contribution of shipping to reducing global CO2 emissions: “We need to use existing and emerging technologies to urgently reduce the impact of our global supply chain on the environment. Continuing with the business as usual approach could result in shipping being responsible for up to a fifth of global emissions by 2050.”

Andrew Cox

During the 1990s, Dr Andrew Cox was the editor of UK Coal Review and was a regular writer and commentator on the international coal trade and related infrastructure developments. Post-2000, he has been a freelance writer, CPD trainer and project consultant. He focuses on developments in the energy, chemicals, shipping and port sectors.
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