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Interview: Headway Technology Group charts maritime decarbonisation ambition with portfolio expansion

Headway will launch a new fuel supply system suitable for alternative bunker fuels such as hydrogen and ammonia; to focus on procurement and construction of carbon capture systems in 2023 following R&D.




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In an exclusive interview with Singapore-based bunkering publication Manifold Times, China-based maritime technology firm Headway Technology Group (Qingdao) Co., Ltd. recently shared its maritime green technology achievements for 2022, the development of a new fuel supply system for alternative bunker fuels and its forecast for maritime decarbonisation:

MT: What company milestones related to maritime decarbonisation have Headway achieved in 2022 and why are these developments significant to the company?

Green shipping has been embedded in Headway’s vision and development strategy, so Headway spares no effort to help the industry accelerate its journey toward decarbonisation and has made great progress in 2022. In 2022, OceanGuard® Methanol Fuel Supply System(LFSS), developed independently by Headway, obtained the AiP certificate from RINA. In addition, Headway has established the Clean Energy Experiment Center which will focus on the R&D of clean energy technology, commercial application of R&D achievements, testing products and training etc. In the future, with the upcoming great process in the R&D of new low- and zero-carbon fuels, such as hydrogen and ammonia, Headway will launch a new fuel supply system suitable for green bunker fuels to meet the demands of the shipping industry.

Besides alternative bunker fuels, Headway also threw itself into the R&D of the traditional methods for decarbonisation over the last two years. Ship-based carbon capture technology is one of them. In 2022, OceanGuard® Carbon Capture, Storage & Utilisation (CCSU) has achieved great progress in R&D and made a big splash in its debut at SMM 2022. Many visitors paid attention because of its outstanding advantages, such as reliability, cost-effectiveness, high efficiency and so on. One point should be noted that OceanGuard® CCSU leverages the latest technology so that is only one-tenth of the size of a traditional CCSU unit while ensuring system stability. 

MT: What is the business direction and company forecast for Headway Technologies in 2023? How have earlier developments in 2022 led to its current plan for 2023?

Under the target of IMO decarbonisation, the related environmental regulations will continue to drive fleet renewal decisions by vessel owners in 2023, with methanol, ammonia and carbon capture technology among the solutions they include in their investments.

The year 2023 will bring much-anticipated methanol dual-fuel vessel orders and the global methanol-fuelled fleet will grow with a huge jump over the next two years. Headway will grab the opportunity to engage clients and provide one-stop service on the basis of Headway’s advantage in this field.

In 2023, decarbonisation would come to a standstill without rapid developments in two- and four-stroke engine technology and the industry is pouring resources to underpin the R&D of engine-fueled clean energy. Therefore, Headway will invest more capital and resources to accelerate the R&D process of ammonia-fuelled supply systems to achieve more in this field.

Currently, many participants who engage in onboard carbon capture are busy with conceptual design and front-end engineering design study of the carbon capture system. This study is ongoing and is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2023. This is the first phase and Headway has finished it before SMM 2022. In 2023, Headway will devote itself to procurement and construction of the system, including onboard experiment and commissioning.

MT: What are the differences between FGSS and EGCS manufactured by Headway as compared to other shipyards? If I am a shipowner, why will I choose products manufactured by Headway?

OceanGuard® FGSS is dependently developed by Headway and has obtained the AiP certificate from major classification societies such as DNV, BV ,RS, RINA, NK, etc. It is worth noting that the system is also the first one in the industry to obtain the SIL Functional Safety Certificate. Headway can also provide tailor-made solutions and services from initial design to commission according to the demands of clients. 

As an example, Headway utilised its experience in retrofitting a Ballast Water Management System (BWMS) to enhance installation efficiency by performing a 3D scan and design in advance during our last retrofit delivery. According to the feedback from customers, about 15% to 20% of fuel cost will be saved from the deferential price between fuel oil and LNG.

OceanGuard® EGCS is also independently developed by Headway with a comprehensive energy-saving and user-friendly system that can be customised. From the feedback of Headway’s clients, three main points play a significant role when shipowners make their decision. 

  • Safety. OceanGuard® EGCS adopts ultra-micro atomisation technology, which overcomes the conventional disadvantages of scrubbers, such as high back pressure of the main engine, inconvenient replacement of packing, and cracks inside the tower body. This minimises scale accumulation for a long time due to the high-temperature evaporation of seawater. Scale accumulation aggravates the back pressure of the main engine and causes a series of main engine combustion problems.
  • Saving cost. OceanGuard® EGCS can adjust the power of the seawater pump in real time according to the real-time working conditions of the main engine, to achieve the maximum energy-saving effect and save every penny for the shipowner.
  • High-quality. OceanGuard® EGCS uses top European parts and spares to ensure a high quality system.

MT: What is Headway’s forecast for maritime decarbonisation? What are maritime decarbonisation’s greatest challenges and its possible solutions?

Concluding with one word from what we know from the customer surveys, the greatest challenge lies in “uncertainty”. Agreeing with the shipping community, Headway believes we should start to take the first step instead of waiting for the one perfect solution.

Headway holds the opinion that decarbonisation can be achieved by multiple approaches, which include the solutions we are providing to the industry and several other approaches such as:

  • Digitalisation: Digital solutions especially with route optimisation can greatly increase energy efficiency and the technology will great benefit those vessels not ready to invest big money in decarbonisation;
  • EPL & ShaPoLi: It’s already a common agreement that EPL or Shaft Power Limit can be the easiest way to meet EEXI requirements. The solution has many limitations, but every kilogram counts on the pathway to decarbonisation.
  • Drop-in Fuels: For those vessels not ready for applying alternative bunker fuels, drop-in fuels are always a great starter towards decarbonisation;
  • Anti-Biofouling: As mentioned by GloFouling Partnerships, a layer of slime as thin as 0.5mm covering 50% of the hull surface will lead to a 25% increase in GHG emissions;
  • Optimized Naval Structures: This includes many approaches including the wind deflector such as ONE Trust equipped recently;
  • Air-Lubrication: Air lubrication is a proven effective approach to reducing GHG emissions with minor retrofitting on the vessel;
  • Hydrogen/Ammonia Fuel: H2 (LH2) and NH3 are the final solutions to decarbonisation. They might take a longer time to come. Headway will proudly be there with all our customers when the time comes.
  • Onboard Production of Hydrogen: The technology can greatly use the onboard Methane/Methanol infrastructure to provide blue hydrogen for vessels.

MT: Which technologies are easiest for vessels to implement in order to meet IMO 2030 standards and why?

In line with the ambition of the IMO GHG Strategy, the path toward decarbonisation will include a series of different solutions as various technologies have their characteristics that greatly influence shipowners’ decisions. Till now, the available solutions give two paths. The first path is combining alternative fuels with carbon capture technology. Alternative marine fuel with lower carbon content — including LNG/LPG and methanol— serves as a promising solution to preventing pollution from the source. The related technologies of the LNG/methanol fuel supply system have been well-developed and now LNG/methanol-fueled vessels have made their way to sea. However, LNG and methanol only can cut 15% emission of carbon dioxide after combustion. To meet the IMO 2030 target, carbon capture technology should be considered to avoid releasing carbon into the atmosphere. 

The first path is innovative and needs shipowners to do a lot of retrofitting to meet the requirements of vessels being fuelled with LNG and methanol, such as installing alternative fuel tanks, equipping them with LNG/methanol-fueled engines and so on. Therefore, path one is more suitable for new-building vessels but it imposes more restrictions and difficulties for existing vessels in installing alternative bunker fuel supply systems. The second path is needed to help shipowners meet the 2030 target with less retrofitting and less cost, which means installing scrubbers and a carbon capture system. With this, there is no need to retrofit the engine and fuel system as shipowners still can combust fossil fuel. 

To ensure an approach that is tailored to meet shipowners’ needs, Headway remains committed to providing high-performance solutions, technical support and consultancy according to size and type of ship, route it sails, onboard space and engine type. For path one, OceanGuard® FGSS and LFSS can meet shipowners’ need for alternative bunker fuel supply systems and OceanGuard® CCSU can capture carbon from the combustion of LNG and methanol. For path two, OceanGuard® EGCS is capable of absorbing SOx from the combustion of fossil oil. In the future, Headway will play more roles in helping the marine industry sail towards net zero.

MT: What initiatives have China introduced to help vessels meet IMO 2030 emissions standards and what is the timeline for them?

According to the CCS report, Outlook of Shipping Low Carbon Development, China has been taking decarbonisation as a major task during development via an initiative made back on 14 October 2021. This development focuses on reaching the CO2 Emissions Peak before 2030 and achieving carbon neutrality before 2060 (aka 3060) as targeted in September 2020. In order to accord with the timeline, China is empowering the transport sector to a “Low-carbon” path: By 2030, 40% of the new-built transportation should be powered by clean energy, and the carbon intensity of transportation should drop by 9.5% compared to the level of 2020. Also, facilities providing LNG, methanol, and hydrogen are under schematisation.


Photo credit: Headway Technology Group
Published: 21 February, 2023

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Championing environmental stewardship: DNV partners Anglo American for vessel electrification feasibility study

Study revealed the potential transformation of Anglo American supported- Waterways Watch Society’s petrol-powered boats into battery electric vessels, aligning with their mission to safeguard waterways in Singapore.





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Classification society DNV recently sat down with global mining company and shipowner Anglo American to discuss their joint high-level vessel electrification feasibility study in the first episode of DNV’s Decarbonization Insights series.

In this session, DNV executed a feasibility study of battery electric boat operations for Waterways Watch Society (WWS), a non-profit organization supported by Anglo American.

The study revealed the potential transformation of WWS’ petrol-powered boats into cutting-edge battery electric vessels, aligning with their mission to safeguard waterways in Singapore.

Currently, there are six workboats powered by petrol at Waterways Watch Society, used/deployed for educational purposes, including collecting litter around Singapore’s waters.

The scope of work included technical assessment and commercial study on the electrification solutions.

Anesan Naidoo, Head of Sustainability at Anglo American, discussed how the innovative collaboration emphasizes their dedication to corporate responsibility, while DNV experts shared their perspectives on how vessel electrification is reshaping the landscape of maritime decarbonization in Singapore and the wider region.

Watch a trailer of the first episode of DNV’s Decarbonization Insights featuring Anglo American on DNV’s official YouTube Channel here.


Photo credit: DNV
Published: 15 April 2024

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18th Singapore Maritime Week opens with ‘Actions meet Ambition’ theme

MPA will be making several announcements related to developments on low- emission maritime energy transition technologies, maritime artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, and manpower, over the five-day event.





18th Singapore Maritime Week opens with ‘Actions meet Ambition’ theme

The Singapore Maritime Week (SMW), organised by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA), returned in its 18th edition with more than 50 events from 15 to 19 April 2024 at the Suntec Singapore Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Themed ‘Actions meet Ambition’, MPA said SMW is organised around four pillars - decarbonisation, digitalisation, services, and talent development. More than 10,000 maritime professionals from close to 40 countries, including delegates from governments, port authorities, international organisations, as well as industry experts and thought leaders are expected to attend SMW. 

In addition, the inaugural Expo@SMW trade exhibition, taking place from 16 to 18 April 2024 as part of SMW 2024, will showcase maritime solutions by close to 50 companies and startups.

SMW 2024 was launched by Mr Chee Hong Tat, Singapore’s Minister for Transport and Second Minister for Finance. Speaking at the Opening Ceremony, Mr Chee highlighted that Maritime Singapore has continued to grow year-on-year – a mark of the industry’s vote of confidence in Singapore, and the strong tripartite relationship between business, workers, and the government. 

Looking forward, Mr Chee said that Singapore aims to be a global hub for innovation, reliable and resilient maritime operations, and maritime talent, to better serve the current and future needs of our stakeholders and allow Singapore to contribute to global development and sustainability goals effectively.

A maritime dialogue was held on the topic of Supply Chain Resilience, Digitalisation and Decarbonisation. The panel, comprising Dr Volker Wissing, Federal Minister for Digital Affairs and Transport, Germany, Mr Even Tronstad Sagebakken, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries, Norway, and Mr Francis Zachariae, Secretary-General, International Association of Marine Aids to Navigation and Lighthouse Authorities (IALA) was moderated by Professor Simon Tay, Chairman, Singapore Institute of International Affairs. 

The panel discussed the challenges the maritime sector faces when dealing with these changes and disruptions, the efforts and measures undertaken by them to prepare the maritime industry and its workforce, and the potential for various stakeholders to work together to address these challenges and capture new opportunities.

Other participants of SMW 2024 include Mr Arsenio Dominguez, Secretary- General of the International Maritime Organization (IMO); and Mr Sergio Mujica, Secretary-General of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).

Speaking at his first maritime event in Singapore since his appointment as the Secretary-General of the IMO in January 2024, Mr Dominguez delivered a keynote speech at the Singapore Maritime Lecture that was moderated by Ambassador Mary Seet-Cheng, Singapore’s Non-Resident High Commissioner to the Republic of Fiji and Non-Resident Ambassador to the Pacific Islands Forum.

Secretary-General Dominguez emphasised the importance of ensuring seafarer safety and wellbeing, particularly in the light of geopolitical changes impacting shipping, and highlighted his vision for IMO to flourish as a transparent, inclusive, diverse institution. 

He also noted the rapid green and digital transition unfolding in the maritime sector, driven by the targets set by IMO Member States in the IMO 2023 GHG Strategy. 

Mr. Dominguez said: “IMO is on track to adopt mid-term measures by late 2025 to cut GHG emissions, to reach net zero targets. Alongside this regulatory work, there is a need to consider issues such as safety, pricing, infrastructural availability to deliver new fuels, lifecycle emissions, supply chain constraints, barriers to adoption and more.”

“Seafarers will require training to be able to operate new technologies as well as zero or near-zero emission powered vessels safely.”

“We need ‘early movers’ in the industry as well as forward-looking policy makers to take the necessary risks and secure the right investments that will stimulate long-term solutions for the sector. In this regard, we welcome the efforts being undertaken by Singapore to facilitate collaboration among maritime stakeholders, including the MPA-led Maritime Energy Training Facility.”

SMW 2024 will also bring together MPA’s Green and Digital Shipping Corridor (GDSC) partners, namely Australia, six ports in Japan, Port of Los Angeles, Port of Long Beach, Port of Rotterdam, and Tianjin, to discuss GDSC initiatives to support IMO’s Greenhouse Gases (GHG) emission reduction targets for international shipping.

These include the development and uptake of zero or near-zero GHG emission fuels at scale along corridor routes, technologies to accelerate decarbonisation, collaboration to enhance operational and digital efficiencies, as well as updates on key milestones achieved for the Singapore and Port of Rotterdam and the Singapore and Port of Los Angeles and Port of Long Beach GDSCs.

MPA will ink several partnerships and agreements with more than 30 partners during SMW 2024 in areas such as training and cybersecurity. These partners comprise international organisations, foreign governments and agencies, classification societies, maritime partners, institutes of higher learning, tech companies, trade associations, and unions. 

MPA will also be making several announcements related to developments on low- emission maritime energy transition technologies, maritime artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, and manpower, over the five-day event.

MPA and 22 partners , including the leading global marine engine manufacturers, today also signed a Letter of Intent to establish the Maritime Energy Training Facility (METF). The METF, supported by the tripartite maritime community in Singapore, aims to close the skills and competencies gap for the safe operation of new zero or near-zero emission-powered vessels.


Photo credit: Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore
Published: 15 April 2024

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Alternative Fuels

MPA to set up facility for maritime workforce to train in handling new bunker fuels

Facility will be anchored by new dual-fuel marine engine simulator for training on safe handling, bunkering and management of incidents involving the use of alternative marine fuels such as methanol.





MPA to set up facility for maritime workforce to train in handling new bunker fuels

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) on Monday (15 April) said it will establish an industry-supported facility to address the current competencies gap by training the global maritime workforce in handling and operating vessels using clean marine fuels. 

MPA said there is a need for more maritime personnel and seafarers to be trained and equipped to operate these ships safely and efficiently as the number of ships operating on zero or near-zero emission fuels grows. 

With hundreds of crew changes conducted daily here, Singapore’s Maritime Energy Training Facility (METF) is well placed to support the training of international seafarers. Ship owners and operators can expect time and training cost savings by tapping on METF’s training facilities. 

Around 10,000 seafarers and other maritime personnel are expected to be trained at METF from now to the 2030s, as the facilities are progressively developed by 2026.

The Letter of Intent to establish METF was signed by MPA and 22 partners comprising global marine engine manufacturers, international organisations, classification societies, trade associations, unions, and institutes of higher learning, at the SMW 2024 opening ceremony. 

The setting up of METF follows from recommendations put forth by the Tripartite Advisory Panel, formed in early 2023 by SMF and supported by MPA, to identify emerging and future skills and competencies to build for the maritime workforce.

METF will be established as a decentralised network of training facilities in Singapore. It will be anchored by a new dual-fuel marine engine simulator for training on the safe handling, bunkering and management of incidents involving the use of alternative fuels, such as methanol and ammonia. 

Other training facilities supporting METF include the integrated engine room and bridge simulator by the Singapore Maritime Academy (SMA) at Singapore Polytechnic (SP), as well as the bridge and engine simulator at Wavelink Maritime Institute (WMI)2 for crew resource management training. 

For emergency response training, METF is supported by gas and fire safety training facilities at Poly Marina operated by the SMA, as well as AR-enabled scenario- based training developed by SP’s Centre of Excellence in Maritime Safety.

METF will also tap various partners’ assets and training technologies to upskill the global maritime workforce, including seafarers, on the operations, bunkering and management of zero or near-zero emission-powered vessels. New training courses and curriculum will be developed by METF’s partners, and progressively rolled out from this year.

MPA also aims to support and contribute to the work of the Maritime Just Transition Task Force (MJTTF) as one of the institutions rolling out the Baseline Training Framework for Seafarers in Decarbonization – which is under development – through METF. 

This will directly contribute to the joint International Maritime Organization (IMO)–MJTTF work to develop training provisions for seafarers in support of decarbonisation of shipping, and complements the IMO's ongoing comprehensive review of the International Convention and Code on Standards of

Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW). Singapore is currently chairing the IMO Working Group on the comprehensive review of the STCW Convention and Code, established in 2023 under the Sub-Committee on Human Element, Training and Watchkeeping.

As part of the METF curriculum, SMA has launched one of the Asia Pacific’s first training courses focused on handling methanol as fuel for ships. The training course, accredited by MPA, covers operational and safety protocols during methanol fuelling developed by MPA following the first ship-to-containership methanol bunkering operation conducted in Singapore in July 2023. 

The course also includes a methanol firefighting practical component covering both shipboard and terminal fires. SMA currently offers two sessions of the Basic and Advanced courses every month, with plans to scale up based on the industry’s demands. The course will be open to all maritime personnel and seafarers starting in April 2024.

With strong demand signalled by the industry for such common training facilities, METF is expected to catalyse investments by the industry to develop other training facilities and solutions in Singapore to tap into this growth area. MAN Energy Solutions, one of the leading global engine makers of alternative-fuel engines, recently opened a new mixed-purpose facility. 

The facility includes a new MAN PrimeServ5 training academy for customers and employees on the safe operation, maintenance, and troubleshooting of all MAN Energy Solutions equipment. METF is also expected to benefit corporate training academies set up by shipping companies, such as those from Eastern Pacific Shipping, to train their global seafaring crew and shore-based personnel.

The MPA – SMF Joint Office for Talent and Skills (Joint Office) was established in March 2024 to coordinate and drive the tripartite efforts by the government, industry, and unions to upskill the Maritime Singapore workforce across shore-based and seafaring jobs and to ensure Singapore continues to have access to a diversity of maritime talents and experts.

To provide workers with greater flexibility in the acquisition of new skills, the Joint Office will work with IHLs and industry to review and progressively convert relevant short-term courses, or on-the-job training into accredited competency-based micro-credentials. These will focus on emerging skills such as maritime cybersecurity, digitalisation, and sustainability. 

The micro-credentials could potentially be stacked towards formal or industry-recognised qualifications and to fill the gap in quality and flexible upskilling or reskilling opportunities for working adults while they remain in full employment. The Joint Office plans to expand the micro-credential pathway, allowing recognition of more courses and workplace learning as micro-credentials over time.

Related: Singapore bunkering sector enters milestone with first methanol marine refuelling op


Photo credit: Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore
Published: 15 April 2024

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