Evaluating Emissions: Bureau Veritas on the Cutting Edge

By MarEx 2012-12-18 15:01:00

As shipping struggles to manage its carbon footprint, French government commissioned leading French shipping consultant MLTC to develop a specific emissions evaluation tool.

There is increasing pressure globally for shipping to reduce its emissions of greenhouse gases. The EU has repeatedly said it is in favour of including shipping in its emissions trading scheme, and recently the UK Chamber of Shipping came out publicly in favour of a global emissions trading scheme for shipping. But they, and the Norwegian owners who have also publicly supported such a scheme, are in a minority. The powerful Greek lobby opposes any form of regulation or trading of carbon dioxide emission from ships. So do many Asian shipowners’ associations. And much of the world is not even involved in the debate so far, but may become so following the US change of presidency, and in the lead up to the global climate change talks set for next December.

Meanwhile shipping is left to argue amongst its own, and against different regional bodies such as the EU, about how to manage its carbon footprint. And overreaching all these arguments is one simple fact. No-one actually knows how much CO2 shipping pumps out. The figures used by all parties are highly contested and used in partisan ways to support particular positions.

The French government wants to take a pragmatic approach to policy development. It is focusing on how much CO2 shipping produces to deliver specific goods to France. They reason that if both governments and the shipping industry are better informed about the actual emissions from ships for any specific route and cargo, and the difference to the emission profile that any specific changes to operations will make, then better decisions about how to reduce those emissions can be made.

Following that thinking the French government commissioned leading French shipping consultant MLTC to develop a specific emissions evaluation tool. They used Tecnitas, the consultancy subsidiary of Bureau Veritas, for the technical development.

The tool is essentially a suite of software for office use. Development is complete and it is being evaluated by the French government at present. The tool will also be used by Tecnitas for benchmarking the fleet operations of major owners and charterers, and for backing up consumption checks and energy audits carried out by Tecnitas on behalf of major charterers.

“The tool is now being validated by the French National Agency for the Environment (ADEME),” explains Francois Le Juste, Tecnitas manager. “Before they can develop a clear policy on how to reduce CO2, NOX or SOX emissions from ships, they need to know what those emissions are, and what effect changes to routeing, vessel type, speed, load factor and other variables will have. This software which will be able to tell policy makers how many tonnes of CO2 were generated to bring any specific goods from anywhere to anywhere else, by any particular ship type.”

How can you estimate how much CO2 is emitted into the atmosphere to move a pineapple from the Ivory Coast to a French port, or how much NOX to move a car from Japan to Rotterdam on its sea transport leg? It is difficult to get a clear fix on what changes to operations will have the most beneficial effect on the emissions profile for those particular goods. “This evaluation tool allows the user to make changes to the inputs to the model and see how that varies the emissions per tonne attributable to delivered cargo. That way they can get a real picture of the effects of cold ironing, or routeing changes, or using larger ships, for example. It will help inform policy decisions,” says Le Juste.

The software uses the energy consumption of different ship types to calculate the production of CO2, NOX and SOX which can be allocated to any tonne of transported goods on a given route. Standard types of vessel included are bulk carriers, tankers, container carriers, LNG and LPGs, Ro- Ros, RoPax and passenger vessels when sailing, manoeuvring or unloading at the quay. Inputs to the software are detailed ships specifications, type of engines, auxiliaries, service speed, dwt, deck outfit and air profile and the ship's operational pattern. This includes time in port, manoeuvering, time at sea at full speed or slow speed, bad weather factor and load factor on both outward and return routes.

“I think everyone agrees we want to tackle global warming,” says Le Juste. “But it is important to make decisions in an informed way. Shipping is very international, and operates outside national boundaries, so much of the information used by politicians to argue for different courses of action locally is flawed. This tool will go some way to bringing realistic data, and a way of evaluating the effects of policy changes, into the discussion.”