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En Route to Greener Shipping Vessels in Singapore

25 Jul 2023, by Kristen Gutierrez

Singapore, as a thriving maritime hub, is at the forefront of environmental sustainability in the shipping industry. Recognising the pressing need to mitigate the sector’s environmental impact, they have committed to spearheading the transition towards cleaner vessels.

The government, together with key industry players, has been dynamic in establishing a comprehensive framework for greener shipping. Stringent environmental regulations, incentivised adoption of green technologies and well-funded research and development propel the industry forward.

Low-carbon fuels at the core of cleaner vessels

Low-carbon fuels are integral to the decarbonisation of the shipping industry. These fuels, which include biofuels, hydrogen, and ammonia, emit fewer greenhouse gases compared to conventional marine fuels. Endorsing the potential of low-carbon fuels, Singapore has been developing a hydrogen economy roadmap to explore the feasibility of using ammonia as a marine fuel.

Consumption tracking advancements

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore has implemented a mandatory fuel consumption reporting regime for ships. This not only boosts transparency but also encourages shipowners to invest in cleaner and more efficient vessels.

The Carbon Intensity Indicator (CII) provides a standardised benchmark for assessing a ship’s environmental performance. The International Maritime Organization has proposed the use of the CII to determine whether ships are meeting mandatory energy efficiency requirements. Singapore actively encourages shipowners to improve their vessels’ CII scores, through initiatives such as the Green Ship Programme and the Maritime Singapore Green Initiative.

Remote sensing and onboard monitoring systems are now also used to collect and analyse data that reflects the global warming potential of different greenhouse gases.

Slowing down

Slow steaming has also been a simple but effective strategy for optimising bunker fuel usage. By operating at lower speeds, ships can significantly reduce their fuel consumption and, consequently, their carbon emissions. Studies have shown that even a small reduction in speed can result in substantial emissions savings. For instance, a 10% reduction in speed can lead to a 27% decrease in emissions. This practice has been tabled during the Singapore-Rotterdam Green Corridor and the Clydebank Declaration launched at the 2021 UN Climate Change Conference where 24 member states signed, Singapore included.

New technologies promoting cleaner vessels

Singapore vessels’ use of digital twin technology creates a virtual replica of a ship. This enables shipowners and operators to simulate different scenarios and identify ways to improve energy efficiency and reduce emissions. They also operate in the cutting-edge development of electric and hybrid propulsion systems, which can drastically cut a vessel’s carbon emissions.

Partners in journey

Looking ahead, Singapore has ambitious plans to be leaders in advancing cleaner vessels. In line with these plans, they are collaborating with international partners. The Getting to Zero Coalition and the Global Maritime Forum are a few global platforms and initiatives aimed at accelerating the pivot to cleaner vessels.

On course to Singapore’s future in cleaner vessels

The transition to cleaner vessels is not an easy sail. Fuel availability, safety, and industry-crossing costs bar shipping companies from quick adoption. Thus, overcoming these hurdles will require concerted efforts from all stakeholders, from policymakers to industry players.

The good news is that the nation has already fostered a vibrant ecosystem of startups, research institutions, and established companies driving innovation in green shipping technologies. Beyond an environmental imperative, it has become an economic opportunity. New markets and industries will continually emerge through cleaner vessels. Singapore shall be paving the way for a spirited and sustainable maritime sector, proving that green shipping is not just possible, but profitable.

Further recommendation:

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