Thursday, 24 February 2011

Coming up: the world’s largest and most fuel-efficient ships

South Korean Daewoo Shipbuilding will build ten of the world’s largest container ships for Maersk Line, with an option for another twenty vessels at a later date. The first of the vessels-called the Triple-E class- will be delivered in 2013 with the delivery of the remaining nine to be staggered until 2015. Maersk says that these ships “will entirely change the shipping industry’s understanding of size and efficiency” and “will put Maersk Line at the helm of change.” Each ship will cost $ 190 million; the total contract value is $5.7 billion if the option is exercised.

Triple-E stands for Economy of scale, Energy efficiency and Environmentally improved vessels. Consider the statistics: Each will carry an astounding 18,000 twenty foot containers. If these containers were put on a train, it would be 110 km long; stacked one atop another, they would rise 47 kilometers up into the atmosphere.

Equally staggering is their energy efficiency brought about by innovative design and economies of scale. “The Triple-E will produce 20 percent less CO2 per container moved compared to Emma Maersk (the E Class) and 50 percent less than the industry average on the Asia-Europe trade lane. In addition, it will consume approximately 35 percent less fuel per container than the 13,100 TEU vessels being delivered to other container shipping lines in the next few years”, Maersk promises. The new ships will sail 184 kilometres using 1 kWh of energy per ton of cargo, whereas a jumbo jet travels half a kilometre using the same amount of energy per ton of cargo.

One reason for this efficiency is a waste heat recovery system that will save up to 10% of main engine power (equalling the average annual electrical consumption of 5,000 European households). In addition, two ultra-long stroke engines will turn twin propellers and a specially designed hull will assist in reducing drag and increasing efficiency. Maersk has considered other environmental concerns to: In a path breaking move, the company has looked beyond the working life of the Triple-E class and is setting a new standard for the way vessels are recycled. All material used to build each of these vessels will be documented in a ‘cradle-to-cradle passport’, ensuring that the ship, once out of service, will be reused, recycled or disposed of “in the safest, most efficient manner.”

“One of the biggest challenges we face in the world today is how to meet the growing needs of a growing population and the impact that is going to have on our planet. International trade will continue to play a key role in the development of the global economy: but, for the health of the planet, we must continue to reduce our CO2 emissions. It is not only a top priority for us, but also for our customers, who depend on us in their supply chain, and also for a growing number of consumers who base their purchasing decisions on this type of information,” says Eivind Kolding, CEO of Maersk Line.

With pressure mounting on the industry to reduce energy consumption and lower greenhouse gases, Maersk- well known for its environmental initiatives- seems to have come up with an aggressive plan that will surely set new benchmarks in the industry for size, fuel efficiency and environmental friendly practices.

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