Sulphur Directive Halves SO2 Emissions Over Denmark

The amount of sulphur dioxide (SO2) in the air over Denmark has more than halved since the new Sulphur Directive for ships transiting the North Sea and the Baltic Sea was introduced on January 1, 2015, according to Danish Environmental Protection Agency.

The air measurements carried out by Aarhus University and Danish Centre for Environment and Energy (DCE) have shown that concentrations of sulphur dioxide in the air have dropped by up to 60% since the turn of the year.

The measurements were performed on land at the measuring stations at Anholt, Tange and Roskilde. The 60% reduction was observed at Anholt, which is close to one of the major shipping lanes. At Roskilde and Tange, which are located inland, the reduction was measured at 50%.

As of January 1, 2015, ships in the North Sea, the Baltic Sea and in North American waters have had to reduce the content of sulphur in their fuels from 1.0% to 0.1%, i.e. by 90%.

To stop ships from ignoring the rules and continuing to pollute using illicit fuels, Denmark’s Ministry of the Environment and Food has fitted an ‘artificial nose’ called a sniffer on the Great Belt Bridge which connects the islands of Zealand and Funen. The nose can detect when ships passing under the bridge are using the wrong type of fuel.

The first air measurements from the sniffer reveal that 98% of ships are complying with the sulphur requirements.

“Sulphur and particles are harmful to humans, so it is good news that the new environmental requirements are having an effect. Denmark is the first country in the world to apply new technology in efforts to monitor pollution from ships and to make sure that everyone is meeting the requirements. The financial benefits of non-compliance with the rules are huge, and control and enforcement are therefore vital elements in preventing harmful pollution from ships and unfair competition for law-abiding ship owners,” said Denmark’s Minister for the Environment and Food, Eva Kjer Hansen.

A small aircraft has also been fitted with a sniffer to monitor ships sailing through the major shipping lanes in Danish waters. If sniffer measurements show that a ship is using illicit fuels, the authorities in the nearest port will be notified so that they can put a stop to the breach.

The sniffer technology has been developed by the Swedish Chalmers University of Technology. The Ministry of the Environment and Food is funding the DKK 6.3-million monitoring effort.

“Danish ship owners are fully behind the new requirements, and I am very pleased to see that the Minister for the Environment and Food and the Danish Shipowners’ Association are working closely together on control and enforcement in the Green Shipping Partnership,” said Anne H. Steffensen, Director General of the Danish Shipowners’ Association.

”It is vital for the industry that we have efficient and effective enforcement internationally, so that we can secure fair competition for all. Remote monitoring from bridges and aircraft could become an important element in ensuring that regulations are complied with – not the least from 2025 at the latest, when tightened requirements will take affect for the rest of the world and international enforcement activities will become even more important.” 

Image: Nord Stream

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