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Torvald Klaveness: Zero emission deep sea shipping not as expensive as perceived

19 Aug 2020

Norwegian deep sea shipping company Torvald Klaveness on Thursday (13 August) said students in its summer-intern program explored different zero emission concepts and found the best zero emissions solution for Klaveness Combination Carriers’(KCC) current combination carrier designs without reducing their transportation capacity or trading flexibility.  

The company said it engaged four summer interns from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) Petter Nordby, Sindre Hestmo, Jon Magnus Moen, and Helle Jensen as part of KCC’s ongoing concept study of zero-emission solutions.

After working on the project over the summer, the students shared their findings at the Norwegian Shipowners Association this week presenting two potential concepts. 

Concept 1: Ammonia as an energy carrier in the future 

  • Ammonia would be the energy carrier in the first concept they investigated, based on using future ammonia fueled internal combustion engines, only requiring small modifications to the machinery system from today’s trading vessel.
  •  As a fuel, ammonia has no carbon and no direct CO2 emissions. The challenge with such a solution was identified as the low flexibility for fuel tank location due to safety and need for cooling, however tank technology and class rules are likely to develop on this front over the next years. 

Concept 2: An even more futuristic methanol solution 

  • The second concept design, and perhaps even more futuristic, was a vessel sailing on methanol as an energy carrier and converted to energy through fuel cells.
  • This would give large flexibility for tank location, but a need for storage of both fuel and CO2.
  • This concept design required larger modifications to the machinery system when compared to the vessel running on ammonia. 
  • The collected CO2 in the tank would be re-used at the next methanol bunkering, making this solution free of CO2 emissions. Such a solution could also be net CO2 negative depending on how the methanol is created, as the vessel catches and stores it onboard. 

The company noted a common factor for both fuels is that they can be produced solely by green energy in the future.  

The transition to zero emission fuels could potentially become expensive, which in turn may make shipowners, governments and other relevant stakeholders more reluctant to invest in and try out new technologies and fuel types. 

To illustrate the likely costs for end-users the students used the example of a car: 

In order to build a car, you would need a certain amount of aluminum, which requires raw materials to be carried by sea. 

With rising fuel prices, a large car (consisting of a substantial amount of aluminum) would not increase in price by more than approximately 30 USD, most likely, a whole lot less. 

“We realized that zero emissions doesn’t have to be expensive for the end user, even with more expensive fuel types such as ammonia or methanol which were the two options we explored,” said the students. 

“There are viable alternatives out there, zero emission technologies are just around the corner, and reducing GHG emissions to zero would most likely not be too costly to do – at least not for the end user. 

“But to pull it off, politicians, regulators and policymakers must act swiftly and come together and agree on how they can best support this change through appropriate initiatives, regulations and incentives”.

Photo credit: Torvald Klaveness
Published: 19 August, 2020

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