Study: ‘Just-In-Time’ Ship Operations Can Slash CO2 Emissions

Reducing the amount of time ships spend waiting outside port and at anchor could significantly reduce ship emissions, according to studies carried out by members of the IMO GloMEEP Global Industry Alliance (GIA).

Illustration; Image Courtesy: PxHere under CCO license /Public Domain

Ships can spend hours or days waiting at anchor outside ports, but providing ships with regular updates about the availability of berths, especially in the last twelve hours prior to port arrival, can support significant reductions in ship and port emissions, the study recently commissioned by the Port of Rotterdam Authority and research institute TNO says.

Implementing “Just-In-Time” ship operations means ships receive information in advance so they can time their arrival at the berth. This can also allow ships to slow down, providing further reduction in the carbon footprint of shipping as well as saving fuel costs.

The results of the study were presented this week at the head office of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) in London during a meeting of the IMO Intersessional working group on the reduction of Greenhouse Gas emissions from ships.

“In percentage terms, we’re talking about modest amounts,” says Astrid Dispert, Technical Adviser of the Global Maritime Energy Efficiency Partnerships.

“But it’s exactly these types of measures that can make a huge difference in the short term and help reduce the carbon footprint of marine shipping. Added to that, they’d also have a beneficial effect on the wallets of the shipping companies.”

5% adjustment in sailing time

TNO and the Port of Rotterdam Authority, which is a member of the ‘Global Industry Alliance to support low carbon shipping’, analysed all the movements of container ships sailing to Rotterdam port in 2017.

“By supplying more accurate information to ships, 4 percent – or 134,000 tonnes – of CO2 emissions can be saved every year,” explains Jan Hulskotte, Senior Researcher at TNO.

“To do this, containerships would have to adjust their sailing speed by an average of 5 percent, and still arrive at the planned arrival time.”

And even more savings could be made if ships were better informed more than twelve hours before arrival, the port authority said.

The study also examined the impact of shorter waiting times in anchorage areas for all ships sailing to Rotterdam. In the bulk transport sector, ships sometimes have to wait at anchor for hours or even days; this is mainly due to contractual obligations.

“If this waiting time was an average of 12 hours shorter, that would really make a difference in percentage terms, with an annual reduction of 35 percent in emissions. So we’re talking about 188,000 tonnes of CO2 and 1,000 tonnes of nitrous oxides,” Hulskotte added.

 “Last year we asked the Wuppertal Institute to look into how the transport and logistical sectors could operate virtually CO2 emission-free by 2050. They said that our first step should be to take efficiency measures. This study shows that those measures are within reach,” Allard Castelein, CEO of the Port of Rotterdam Authority, pointed out.

Port call optimisation

Earlier this year, the Port of Rotterdam Authority launched ‘Pronto’. The port call optimisation platform combines a variety of data sources so that a port call by a vessel can be planned as accurately as possible. This way, activities that must take place during the port call can be seamlessly coordinated with each other, the port authority said.

As disclosed, shipping companies can see what the sailing speed was, what the ideal speed would have been and how much fuel and CO2 could have been saved.

“It’s a great idea, and we hope that other ports will also start doing it,” continues Castelein. “Only by working together intensively and taking action, we can reduce CO2 emissions.”

The GIA is a public-private partnership initiative of the IMO under the framework of the GEF-UNDP IMO GloMEEP Project.

The GIA is looking into the operational and contractual barriers to implementing Just-In-Time operations in order to identify measures that could be taken by all stakeholders, including ships, port authorities, terminal operators, and others, to make Just-In-Time ship operations a global reality.