1. Nitrogen Emission Control Areas
In 2016, IMO regulations came into place stating that the engines of seagoing vessels built after 1 January 2021 must meet strict NOx emission requirements in order to be allowed to sail in the so-called Nitrogen Emission Control Areas (NECAs) in the North and Baltic Seas. These new Tier-III engines emit approximately 70% less NOx than the current generation of ship engines (Tier-II standard, from 2011), and more than 80% less NOx than older ship engines (Tier-I standard, from 2000). The majority of the Dutch fleet sailing regularly in North-West Europe and (un)loading at Dutch ports now has Tier-II engines. The number of Dutch ships sailing with new Tier-III engines (primarily LNG) is growing.
More and more shipowners are renewing their fleets with new-build vessels that use Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) as a cleaner alternative fuel. LNG is currently the only serious alternative for shipowners looking to reduce sulphur oxides and particulate matter emissions by 99% and nitrogen oxides emissions by more than 80% (compared to conventional marine fuels). However, it must be noted that LNG is in fact a fossil fuel (a high calorific natural gas) and therefore must be viewed as a transition fuel in the eventual step towards zero-emissions shipping. The technology on board LNG-powered ships is fundamentally different from ships operating on conventional marine fuels such as marine gas oil or low-sulphur fuel oil. Using modern LNG propulsion technology, other even cleaner and non-fossil fuels could also be used in the medium term, resulting in low-emissions shipping. Therefore, it is essential that LNG does not disappear from the package of possible options to reduce NOx emissions. As such, it is of utmost importance that more and more EU Member States start providing LNG bunkering services to seagoing vessels in their seaports (as required by EU Directive 2014/94/EU).
3. Rollout of shore power
An increasing number of seagoing ships connect to the onshore electricity supply while moored at port (also known as cold-ironing or alternative marine power). By using shore power, these ships are not using their auxiliary engines during a port call. Representing a 100% reduction of emissions, these ships no longer cause air pollution in the port area by using shore power. Just as with the expansion of LNG provision, it is also of the utmost importance that more EU Member States help their seaports offer shore power. Once again, this is required by EU Directive 2014/94/EU (Clean Power for Transport). In order to stimulate the rollout and use of shore power, it is also important that energy taxes (including the Opslag Duurzame Elektriciteit, ODE) that are currently levied when shore power is used be eliminated as soon as possible. This will act as an incentive for shipowners to start using shore power and for energy suppliers and ports to invest in their shore power facilities that could be used by multiple users.
Focus on new ships and smart modifications
When considering the measures above, it is important to realize that ships have an average economic lifespan of 25 years. Trucks, in comparison, are economic for just 7 years. The turnover rate of ships and marine engines, both economically and technically, is therefore significantly lower. As such, the KVNR focuses mainly on the significant emission reduction results to be gained from building new ships and performing smart interim refits/modifications of existing seagoing vessels that will operate for many years to come.