COP26 and the compelling case for Rotor Sails

Denmark, the USA and 12 other countries have thrown their weight behind a target to slash emissions created by the global maritime sector to zero by 2050.

The initiative was announced at the high-profile COP26 climate summit in Glasgow. The aim is to build support among countries for the net-zero goal at the International Maritime Organization [IMO], which is eyeing new emissions-cutting measures by a 2023 deadline.

“We urge the IMO to take action to set ambitious targets to achieve zero emission shipping by 2050,” Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen told a news conference. “Carbon-neutral shipping is vital to reaching our climate goals.”

Belgium, Britain, Finland, France, Germany, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, the Marshall Islands, Norway, Panama and Sweden also penned the pledge.

The IMO – the UN body mandated to regulate shipping – is tasked with building consensus between 178 member states. In 2018, it promised the maritime sector would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least half by 2050, compared with 2008 levels.

But the 2018 strategy was publicly slammed by UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres last month for falling well short of the 2015 Paris Agreement goals.

He told the Global Sustainable Transport conference: “Let’s be honest. While [UN] member states have made some initial steps through the International Civil Aviation Organization and the International Maritime Organization to address emissions from shipping and aviation, current commitments are not aligned with the 1.5°C goal of the Paris agreement. In fact, they are more consistent with warming way above 3°C.”

Critics like Guterres have suggested the approach mooted three years ago falls considerably short of the net zero CO2 emissions needed by 2050 to avoid the most damaging affects of climate change.

At 3°C many glaciers and ice caps would melt, resulting in rising sea levels and engulfing low areas. Storms would also become more violent, potentially leaving more areas uninhabitable.

A staggering 90% of world trade is transported by sea and decarbonisation won’t be easy.

Summarising the latest trends in green technology uptake and fleet renewal from Clarksons’ Fuelling Transition report and monthly data series, Steve Gordon, Clarksons Research managing director, explained that the uptake of alternative fuels has continued to progress steadily, with 4.2% of the fleet on the water and 34.0% of the orderbook in gross tonnage terms capable of using alternative fuels or propulsion.

“This includes 29.7% of orderbook tonnage set to use LNG (546 units), 2.5% to use LPG (95 units) and 1.8% due to use other alternative fuels (about 200 units; including methanol (22), ethane (10), biofuels (2), hydrogen (3) and battery/hybrid propulsion (150)),” said Gordon.

Over 244 ships in the fleet and 95 on the orderbook are designated ‘LNG Ready,’ while there are now 24 ‘Ammonia Ready’ and 5 ‘Hydrogen Ready’ vessels on order.”

Future fuels are likely to be in demand across a number of industries and therefore carry a high price tag. Owners and charterers will always want to contain their bunker costs and Rotor Sails provide a route to uptake new fuels without seeing dramatically increased bunker bills.

At Anemoi we passionately believe that Rotor Sails offer an immediate and compelling solution. We urge shipowners to take the plunge and invest in future proof technologies. Installing wind technologies as retrofit or newbuild could be the ideal answer for a wide array of vessel segments.