Decarbonization is a priority for the shipping sector in which every stakeholder shares responsibility. Dr Stelios Kyriacou, Chief Technology Officer at ERMA FIRST, offers insights into the company’s dynamic five-year strategy for decarbonization.
SAFETY4SEA: What are the top priorities in your agenda for the next five years?
Stelios Kyriacou: ERMA FIRST’s absolute priority is to preserve and protect the marine ecosystem, as a company specialized in developing and supplying environmental protection technologies. Our plan for the next five years is to consolidate and grow our existing position and to expand into new areas where the innovation at the root of our company culture will benefit a wider range of stakeholders.
Firstly, we aim to maintain our position as a leading global BWTS manufacturer which proactively supports its customers through the complete provision of technical support and after-sales services worldwide. However, our horizons stretch beyond ballast water to include products specifically aimed at helping our customers meet their decarbonizations objectives. ERMA FIRST is already moving into Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) solutions for shipboard installation and operations, for example. Well-established and mature industrial CCS technologies are being evaluated for their ability to work within practical constraints and challenges onboard, as well as for cost effectiveness. Although CCS solutions are mature there are significant scale and cost issues to be addressed in relocating such systems from land to sea.
Our plans also include the delivery of Alternative Maritime Power (AMP) or Cold Ironing systems to power ships emission-free at the quay. Our BLUE CONNECT system seamlessly facilitates a vessel’s connection to a port’s electrical grid in order to power the vessel’s systems and equipment while at berth thus contributing to its operational sustainability. Through technological innovation and sharing of our expertise, we will continue to deliver cutting-edge solutions, pioneering new and better ways to protect the environment and add value to our customers’ operations.
S4S: Are you satisfied with progress made towards maritime decarbonization so far? What would you like to see up to 2030?
St.K.: Given the long lifespans of ships (15–30 years), decarbonization of the shipping sector needs to start now in order to reach the emission reduction targets for 2030 and 2050. Shipowners are already experiencing increasing pressure to reduce the GHG footprint of maritime transport, and they are investing in technology and upgrades that will futureproof their assets in line with the EEXI and CII regulations. Decarbonization has gained momentum and it is fair to say that shipowners have embraced the need to adapt to the new normal. Significant steps have been taken and options such as alternative fuels, hydrogen fuel cells, batteries and a range of innovative energy saving devices are readily available. It seems that nothing is off the table. The pressure is on the sector to accelerate the transition to alternative, low- and zero-carbon (LoZeC) propulsion technologies.
However, there is no silver bullet for decarbonizing shipping, and – unfortunately – while the industry works towards achieving zero-carbon operations, its use of fossil fuels will continue. ERMA FIRST has therefore also partnered with specialist developers of software and hardware tools that allow shipowners, managers and operators to monitor their ship CII in real time thus enabling proactive decision making to optimize operations.
S4S: Tell us about BLUE CONNECT; what feedback have you had from the market so far? What is needed for a widespread adoption of shore power?
St.K.: BLUE CONNECT is the shore power solution developed and offered by ERMA FIRST. Our solution was developed according to the ISO/IEC/IEE 80005-1:2019 standard and is focused on safety, efficiency, and adaptability. BLUE CONNECT can be offered either as a containerized solution or in a loose arrangement, depending on operational needs and vessel type. Our containerized solution can either be installed in a permanent position onboard or in a lift-on/lift-off configuration. Extended safety provisions have been included to ensure safety of people and equipment. There has been great interest from the shipping industry, and this is growing continuously because shore power offers a practical and efficient way for ships to reduce their environmental impact while in port. The technology has been successfully implemented in several ports around the world, and there is growing interest in its adoption in other locations.
For a widespread adoption of shore power, several factors need to be in place:
- Adequate infrastructure, such as electrical grids and shore-side power interface with vessels, must be available in ports to support shore power.
- Clear and consistent regulations, such as mandatory requirements for ships to use shore power while in port, can help drive adoption.
- Shore power solutions must be cost-effective for shipowners and operators, and for the ports that provide the infrastructure.
- Shore power systems must be technically compatible with the ships that use them, in terms of voltage, frequency, and other technical requirements.
By addressing these factors, the widespread adoption of shore power can help reduce the environmental impact of shipping and support the transition to a low-carbon shipping sector.
The views presented are only those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of SAFETY4SEA and are for information sharing and discussion purposes only.
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