Ocean carriers are reaping big savings through slow steaming and using larger vessels, but a Germanischer Lloyd official said significant additional benefits can be realized through adopting improved technology.
Speaking at the Connecticut Maritime Association’s Shipping 2013 meeting, Albrecht Grell, GL’s senior executive vice president of maritime solutions, said despite the glut of vessels, “ECO ships offer benefits in container shipping large enough to justify orders beyond what would be induced by market demand-supply balance, pushing out vessels with traditional designs.”
He noted this is true, in part, because of low shipyard prices.
Grell said while tankers and bulk ships also benefit from ECO designs, they are most transformational on new generation containerships that have bigger capacities, wider beams, optimized lines, new propulsion systems and next generation engines.
Containerships of all sizes benefit. For example, he said if bunker fuel costs $750 a ton, the cost per 1,000 container miles drops:
- 27 percent for a 2,500-TEU ship from $77 to $56.
- 47 percent for a 4,500-TEU ship from $75 to $40.
- 35 percent for a 9,000-TEU ship from $55 to $36.
- 31 percent for a 13,100- to 14,000-TEU ship from $42 to $29.
So bigger ships are still far less expensive, but carriers that need Panamax-size ships may see the biggest benefit if they build new vessels with ECO designs.
Meanwhile, GL noted its FutureShip consultancy arm believes there’s “a huge market beckoning for energy efficiency enhancements to existing vessels.”
A recent issue of GL’s Nonstop
magazine said “one fairly straightforward way to boost a ship’s efficiency is to optimize its trim in the water” and noted it has a software application that it introduced in 2010, called ECO-Assistant, which helps onshore cargo planners distribute onboard cargo to minimize fuel consumption. The shipmaster and crew use the information provided by the software to trim and ballast the vessel effectively.
GL said “there is no single optimal trim; rather, the best trim for a given scenario is a function of the hull shape, propulsion system, speed displacement and water depth.”
FutureShip also offers shipowners efficiency audits of their ships which detail the most cost-effective optimization measures. It added “solutions developed may include hull shape modification by fitting appendages, propeller modification, and recommendations for the operating profile of the ship or even for the service concept itself.”
For a 9,000-TEU vessel, FutureShip reckons a 5 percent increase in fuel efficiency could add up to $50 million saved over the ship’s lifetime, while a 15 percent efficiency improvement, which it says is perfectly realistic if appropriate operational adjustments are implemented, could save as much as $150 million.