Ships should use advanced emissions monitoring

Photo: dans le grand bleu/CC BY-NC-SA

Advanced emissions monitoring of large ships calling at EU ports could help save owners and operators of large ships up to €9 million per year.

Using automated systems such as fuel flow meters or continuous emissions monitoring, which are already used by many of the world’s largest shipping companies, could save ship owners and operators up to €9 million per year, according to a new study.

The cost savings arise from the electronic collection and reporting of data, which doesn’t require man-hours, as well as the accuracy and verifiability of the data, which significantly reduces verification costs by third parties.

Aoife O’Leary, clean shipping officer at Transport & Environment, said: “The study clearly shows that the best way to monitor shipping emissions is also the cheapest in the long run. When GPS systems became available to massively improve the accuracy of ship navigation, no ship owner turned a blind eye to the technology just because of an upfront capital cost. So, why should the Commission favour the use of inaccurate old-fashioned paper receipts when they could promote an accurate, real-time fuel monitoring system, enabling real emissions reductions?”

Using these modern monitoring systems also has the potential to enable fuel savings and therefore lower emissions significantly more than the two per cent CO2 cut claimed by the Commission in its proposal.

The Commission estimates that CO2 emissions from ships sailing in European waters amounted to 180 million tonnes in 2010. If these emissions were reported as a country, maritime transport would be Europe’s 8th largest emitter.

Last summer, the Commission issued a legislative proposal to establish an EU system for monitoring, reporting and verifying (MRV) CO2 emissions from large ships using EU ports. The proposal said that all ships calling at EU ports should be required to measure and report their annual fuel burn and emissions. As it stands, the proposal goes no further than requiring ship owners and operators to report fuel consumption based on fuel sales receipts, which ships already carry.

Advanced, electronic consumption measuring methods, which provide ship owners with the necessary information to capture real emissions reductions, are mentioned, but not mandated by the proposal.

An additional advantage of advanced measuring technologies is that they are also able to monitor and report air pollutants such as sulphur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx). Air pollution from international shipping, of which SO2 and NOx emissions are a big part, accounts for about 50,000 premature deaths per year in Europe.

Due to synergies between the EU and International Maritime Organization air pollution laws, the CE Delft study suggests that investing in these modern systems could also lower the cost of complying with international shipping air pollution standards, such as the 2015 sulphur limits.

John Maggs of Seas at Risk said: “As the shipping industry pushes back against new laws to make shipping greener, this study shows that it makes perfect environmental and economic sense to use modern technologies and consolidate reporting requirements into one regulation. We therefore call on the European Parliament and the Council to strengthen the proposal to ensure that all harmful pollutants can be more effectively controlled.”

Source: T&E press release, 9 January 2014
The study: Economic impacts of MRV of fuel and emissions in maritime transport (January 2014). By D. Nelissen & J. Faber, CE Delft. Commissioned by Transport & Environment and Seas At Risk. Available at:

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