Namely, as the IMO 2020 regulations are now in place, shipbuilders and ship purchasers are planning ahead for a future with a greater emphasis on efficiency.

With these measures in consideration, changes in ship design would have been making gains, however Wartsila say that that it not exactly the case.

According to Tommy Hivand, General Manager, Global Newbuild Sales, Wärtsilä, efficiency was actually deteriorating in the early 2000s. In fact, a study conducted in the mid-2000 showed that new ships were 10% less fuel efficient than those built in the 1990s.

Nevertheless, since then the trend has swifted towards building more efficient ships, in accordance to the IMO’s planned efficiency design index. This index requires a minimum energy efficiency level per capacity mile.

What is more, Tomaz Nabergoj, Director, Ship Design, Wärtsilä, supports Hivand’s assessment. As he explains"

Current improvements have been driven not by climate demand, but purely market-driven by a combination of increasing fuel prices and low freight rates. As a general trend, the drive to efficiency hasn’t been steady over the years

What is more, Vesa Marttinen, Director, Cruise, Ferry and Yacht Business, Wärtsilä, also observes that ships are “designed to last.” As a result, shipbuilders are now considering how their assets can fit into a circular economy model.

Having this goal in consideration, Marttinen urges for lifetime extension, in which assets’ lifetimes are extended in order to reduce the need for new material. To achieve that ships must use new material, which will be codified in a new regulation called the Energy Efficiency Existing Ship Index (EEXI).

“We have to improve efficiency per transported good or transported passenger. One way to tackle this is to convert the ships by lengthening them, making them larger, removing some of the systems so we can extend the lifetime, or increasing the capacity to reduce emissions per unit of transport or per passenger day. This would reduce maritime emissions, and at the same time use fewer materials in comparison to new builds

As for specific regulations, Nabergoj highlights the IMO sulphur cap as an example of the type of regulation that will lead to changes to ship design. As explained, the use of lower sulphur content fuels will necessitate modifications to ship design. These changes could regard improvements of hulls, propellers, or sails.