Zero Vision Tool is addressing the complex challenges ahead

The challenges facing the shipping industry in Northern Europe in the years 2015–2020 and on to 2050 are complex. There is a political desire for financial growth, primarily in the Baltic region, and the EU estimates a fifty percent increase in the cargo volume transported by sea before 2050. At the same time the shipping industry’s negative impact on health, environment and climate has to be reduced.

New sulphur level regulations

On account of the latter, new sulphur level regulations are coming into effect in the northern EU Emission Control Area (ECA) on 1 January 2015. The maximum level of sulphur allowed in shipping fuel will drop from 1% to 0.1%, thereby reducing the amount of air pollution and improving the air quality.

Looking forwards, new sulphur regulations for non-ECA areas will be implemented on 1 January 2020, requiring emission levels to drop from 3.5% to 0.50% in these areas. In 2016 similar regulations for nitrogen will come into effect in the ECA areas, and there will be more to come.

Trying to avoid a modal backshift

For shipping this means that new technologies need to be tested, safety issues need to be assessed and the necessary infrastructure needs to be in place. Unfortunately, there is no complete or stand-alone solution for the shipping industry to avoid adverse effects, such as loss of competitiveness or modal backshift, when complying with these new regulations. 

The available alternatives are

  • using a finer but also significantly more expensive fuel quality,
  • replacing the fuel, or
  • purifying exhaust gases on board the vessels.

However, choosing the right method is a complex process, especially for existing ships.

Solutions for a sustainable shipping sector

ZVT stakeholders have identified three possible ways forward for the entire transport system, based on choice of fuel: Methanol, LNG and Scrubber, this latter allowing continuation of the use of traditional fuel. These three ways are represented by our three EU funded Pilot projects:

Together we are supporting the development of a strong, competitive and environmentally sustainable shipping sector in the Baltic Sea, which is a prerequisite for a strong economic market and future growth.