Traditionally, the environmental performance of ships in terms of air emissions has never been among the primary concerns of the maritime industry. However, this situation is bound to change considering that the greening of the transportation sector is imminent and unavoidable. This tendency is manifested with activities ranging from regularly published statistics regarding the air pollution of general industrial activity up to the Energy Efficiency Design and Operation Index that are currently being considered at IMO.
The greening of shipping operations has to do with more than just the amount of NOx, SOx and CO2 gases emitted at any period of time: the fact that for every tonne of fuel burnt approximately three tonnes of CO2 are produced indicates that the environmental performance of ships is linked to their cost-effectiveness. As a result, consistent energy management onboard will become a priority for rule compliance, and robustness against unpredictable financial fluctuations.
Acknowledging that newly build ships will comply with the environmental regulations from the outset and will be more advantageous in comparison to existing ones, REFRESH will address the aspects of retrofitting that are essential for improving the energy efficiency onboard
The central concept of REFRESH is the dynamic energy modelling, i.e. the simulation of the energy production, consumption and losses over time. This idea will be implemented in a decision support tool that will allow onboard and ashore personnel to monitor the performance of the ship and adopt appropriate practices as a function of its operational profile.
The specific objectives of REFRESH are:
- Development of dynamic energy modelling routines
- Optimisation of the energy efficiency and air emissions for retrofitting and operation
- Development of a monitoring and management methodology for operation and
- Development of a decision support tool for operation.
Increasing energy efficiency in ships
Shipping is the lifeblood of the modern economy, vital for European businesses to stay afloat. With firm regulations set by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), EU-funded scientists are working on ways to mitigate its environmental impact.
The maritime industry has come under fire recently for significantly contributing to greenhouse gas emissions. Operators are urgently called to follow more environmentally friendly practices, while also maintaining profitability.
Scientists initiated the EU-funded project 'Green retrofitting of existing ships' (http://www.refreshproject.eu/ (REFRESH)) to make passenger ships more eco-friendly. Focusing on the existing merchant fleet, REFRESH makes energy efficiency an integral part of the ship life cycle.
For operators to have sufficient insight into a ship's energy performance, REFRESH is identifying underperforming systems and components and virtually replacing them with alternative ones. Furthermore, as emission calculations are correlated to fuel consumption, it is investigating their effect on key performance indicators (KPIs).
Scientists will perform on-board energy audits to assess the current status of existing ships. These will help recommend technical solutions that should improve energy consumption as well as draw up shipyard specifications to implement these changes in retrofitting projects.
Along with the energy audits, scientists will introduce dynamic energy models of energy flows to simulate numerous combinations of environmental and loading conditions. Based on these different scenarios (e.g. full load condition and nominal speed), the optimal KPIs should be identified.
Another achievement will be the development of a life cycle energy management system. This will collect data from various on-board components and compare values with the optimal or predicted fuel consumption ones, advising the crew accordingly.
Operators have already provided a list of six ships to perform energy audits. Based on the data collected, scientists have identified a number of energy deficiency issues and suggested actions both operationally or retrofitting-wise. Known as energy-saving potentials, these solutions have been analysed in terms of technical and economic feasibility.
Newly built ships will comply with environmental regulations from the outset and will be more advantageous compared to existing ones. However, REFRESH successfully addresses the retrofitting aspects that are essential for improving energy efficiency on board.