Mediterranean Ferry Operators Troubled by Sulfur Emissions Cap

Image Courtesy: Ports of Stockholm

Mediterranean ferry operators voiced their concerns on meeting the 0.5% sulfur emissions cap due in 2020 during Interferry’s 42nd annual conference in Split, Croatia.

According to Minoan Lines Managing Director Antonios Maniadakis, using low sulfur fuel would increase costs by EUR 2 million ( USD 2.35 million) per year.

But clean diesel was advocated by Alan Klanac, Interferry President and former CEO of conference host company Jadrolinija, who argued that LNG coolant technology was more suited to cold sea temperatures of 7-10 degrees such as in Norway.

“Here in Croatia we face 27 degrees in summer and that’s a major issue,” he warned.

Referencing another problem – the region’s shortage of LNG bunkering facilities – Attica Group CEO Spiros Paschalis said the company was collaborating on a dual-fuel ferry project while also working with a Greek distributor on the potential for more refuelling infrastructure.

Panos Mitrou of Lloyd’s Register suggested that the ferry sector was the best candidate for alternative fuels. He highlighted two European Union-backed schemes to encourage a switch in the Eastern Mediterranean – the Poseidon Med II project to provide LNG bunkering facilities at five ports, and the Elemed project promoting cold ironing and electric propulsion.

Supporters of electrification included Jan Helge Pile, Managing Director of Color Line’s marine & technical division. Pile said the Norwegian company’s 27,000gt diesel-electric ro-pax newbuild, due for delivery in 2019, was originally planned to be LNG-powered.  Later it became clear that competition for the best time slots on the single ferry berth at Sandefjord would favour the vessel with least emissions.

“The vessel can operate for 60 minutes on batteries, meaning we will have unbeatable zero emissions in the agreed zone off the port,” he explained.  “In any case, two years ago it was all about LNG yet now we are already hearing more talk about hydrogen.”

Jim Anderson, director of vessels at Scotland’s Caledonian Maritime Assets, which has a fleet that includes three small hybrid double-enders, confirmed that the company was actively working towards building a hydrogen-powered ferry. The project dated from 2010 and a Capex model had shown it was feasible.  However, because storing the fuel would occupy a large amount of vessel space, bunkering would be required every second day and that raised the problem of how to fit it into the timetable.

Renewable electric energy was a viable game changer according to Soren Danig, VP business solutions at Plan B Energy Storage.

“Air pollution from international shipping accounts for 50,000 deaths per year in Europe,” he asserted. “New energy storage technology allows charging in 15 minutes, decreasing system sizes, 40,000-hour life cycles and end of life cell swaps.”

A ro-pax case study presented by MAN passenger ship sales head Sokrates Tolgos concluded that life-cycle costs were 14% higher using LNG and 31% higher for marine gasoil (MGO) compared with the HFO/scrubber option – a solution that meets regulatory requirements and is in line with industry forecasts that 80% of marine operations would be HFO fuelled in 2030.

As for electrification, he argued: “You may have emissions-free ships but how do you produce the electricity? You’re just shifting the emissions somewhere else unless you can produce electricity in the quantities required without using fossil fuels.”

Safety management and social media were also included in the agenda of the conference.

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