Energy turnaround

5/3/2018 | Words: Silke Rockenstein | Pictures: Robert Hack

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Greenhouse gas emissions in international shipping are to be reduced by at least 50 per cent by 2050 compared with 2008 levels. This has now been agreed by the Marine Environment Protection Committee of the International Maritime Organization (IMO). On 13 April 2018, representatives from more than 100 countries adopted this strategy for the reduction of CO2 emissions, which the VDMA - The German trade association for engines and systems believes is an ambitious one in view of the sharp increase in shipping traffic forecast for the coming decades. How is the decision viewed by the manufacturers of ship propulsion systems? We put the question to Dr. Daniel Chatterjee, Head of the Green & High-Tech programme at Rolls-Royce Power Systems.

Dr. Chatterjee, what do you think of this decision?
The decision taken by the IMO is a clear affirmation that international shipping is also committed to achieving the climate goals. Establishing global uniform rules with clear targets and concrete actions is important for us. It will result in innovative propulsion technologies being employed and funded. 

What must be done to ensure that this radical maritime energy turnaround is successful? 
All the parties involved, such as shipping companies, shipyards and manufacturers of propulsion systems, but also politicians, will have to work together and make a contribution. A key factor on the way to reducing emissions in international shipping is undoubtedly the development of new propulsion technologies. The framework conditions required for this are the funding of innovative technologies and the appropriate infrastructure. What is absolutely essential for the success of the maritime energy turnaround, however, will be retrofitting ships with new, more fuel-efficient propulsion systems. New, state-of-the-art HFO-free diesel engines are already delivering significant improvements. The step forward will be achieved through electrification, the use of LNG as a fuel and, in the long term, the use of P2X fuels, and subsequently the coupling of the transport and power generation sectors.

Is Rolls-Royce Power Systems prepared for this?
Very much so! In 2015, we launched our Green & High-Tech programme. This is a programme with which we make targeted investments in environmentally sound solutions for the future that are designed to lower the emissions of pollutants and reduce the consumption of energy and raw materials. We focus on exhaust gas aftertreatment, alternative fuels, electrification, digitisation and total systems capability. This means we have an overall view of the entire propulsion system down to the energy generation systems.

As early as the end of 2017, we delivered the first of our new mobile MTU gas engines for two Dutch ferries. Compared with a diesel engine with no exhaust gas aftertreatment, the gas engine emits no soot particles and no sulphur oxides, 90 per cent less NOx and 5 to 10 per cent less greenhouse gas. It thus meets the IMO III emission standards in force since 2016 with no additional exhaust gas aftertreatment.

When developing new systems, we always include electrical components in the design as optional equipment. This is an area where we see an increasing demand for hybrid propulsion systems in the near future. Besides marine applications, these systems will also be relevant for use in other applications, such as rail or in the form of battery-based energy storage systems for microgrids for the supply of electric power.

As a manufacturer of complete propulsion and energy solutions, we have to think beyond the engine. We are currently in the process of launching a joint project dealing with the entire chain, from P2X generation down to the end use. 

Dr. Daniel Chatterjee is Head of the Green & High-Tech programme at Rolls-Royce Power Systems and also responsible for the project management of MTU’s large and classic engines and engines in the lower output range. 

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