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We are living in a new age where electric ships will take over from diesel bunkered fume makers simply because of the need to adapt to survive. The only problem is how to get there with rigid thinking ruling the day - and how to get there without undue complications.


We must throw away the old rule book and start again with a clean sheet of paper. Then take whatever comes of that and draw a line to existing technology and infrastructure. It will be as difficult for shipping bosses to assimilate as the change from sail to steam.


When it comes to leading change, forget the Admiralty. Navies are always several hurdles behind. Imagine trying to sell Zero Carbon Peace to the warmongers. They love noise and smell to go with their missiles and mines.


Cruise liners and passenger ships will not look anything like the Climate Change Challenger, even though the basic formula is the same. For starters, cruise liners and passenger ferries are all about comfort and ocean views to relax while on holiday or traveling to exotic locations. This means a different solar panel arrangement while still maintaining tracking and wind turbine boost. Fortunately, there is a way. It may be that passengers of eco ships might actually embrace the new technology as the majority of people have on land.






The 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change is a global action plan to put the world on track to avoid dangerous climate change by limiting global warming to below 2oC. It has been agreed that to achieve the UN's sustainability development goal 13, global emissions must be significantly reduced compared to today's level. This means that a system for near zero carbon shipping needs to be developed quickly with a target date of 2050.


Current solutions such as carbon capture and incremental energy savings are not enough to achieve UN target reductions due to their limited potential. Reduction measures for NOx and SOx emissions are often achieved with solutions that increase GHG emissions, contrary to the main aim of cleaning up ocean transport.




A 2050 target means that we need to radically rethink our marine transport policies and strategy, against a tide of existing investment and operators who do not want change where it will cost them money. In some cases emerging operators will embrace change and relish the potential long term costs savings that electric shipping has to offer. But it is a whole new business model that needs to be developed to the point where financiers can easily understand plans.


Albert Einstein: Creativity is the measure of intelligence




In order to accelerate such ideal, a scrappage scheme might be introduced, where older bunker fuelled vessels are traded in for an allowance against an purchase order for a Zero Carbon ship.




In addition, cargo and passengers that are delivered via diesel engines or coal fired boilers could be subject to an international marine tax on gallons of fuel used or tons of coal burned, which taxes will go toward building up a fund for scrap-age trade-ins.




A relatively simple way to reduce fuel consumption and emissions is speed reduction. The industry has already introduced slow steaming in many segments and a further 10-20% reduction could be possible without major change in equipment or logistics.


This would correspond to a reduction in fuel consumption in the order of 30% in the short term, also accounting for the fact that more vessels will be needed to cover the transport demand.


Slow steaming makes solar powered shipping more attractive, tending to level the playing field. Where speed is to be reduced by more than 20% leading up to 2050, established logistics solutions and charter contracts will need to be reviewed.


Conversion of existing fleets versus new builds




The ability to handle a larger number of smaller ships, means that ports and harbours may need to revise berthing and loading arrangements for a quicker turnaround. It also means that smaller and more frequent consignments might be catered for and that investment in new ships may be in smaller bites.


At this stage it is impossible to guess at the advantages or disadvantages of electric ocean transport, until we know how well the 'Climate  Change Challenger' might perform. Once that data is available, computer modelling might allow us to determine workability scenarios.



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Climate Change Challenger

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BENCHMARK - MS Turanor PlanetSolar (Switzerland) navigated the world in a westward direction from Monaco in 1 year 7 months and 7 days from 27 September 2010 to 4 May 2012. We wonder why nobody has attempted to improve on this design, to challenge the record in the intervening seven years.




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