Optimising Ships for Energy Efficiency

Interview with Dario Bocchetti, Energy Saving Manager at Grimaldi Group.

Saving energy has major advantages and no disadvantages. By implementing innovative technologies and smart policies to improve energy efficiency on our ships, we significantly reduce fuel consumption and costs. Saving fuel goes hand in hand with controlling emissions of greenhouse gases and protecting the environment. In turn, stronger environmental protection measures help us comply with international emissions regulations. I’m responsible for energy efficiency and innovation for over 100 ships in the Grimaldi Group, so in our case these advantages are multiplied by 100. It is immensely satisfying to see the real, positive results of our efforts in terms of cost savings, environmental conservation and compliance.

We innovate constantly in order to optimise the energy consumption of our fleet. A good example is our recent order of six hybrid ro-ro vessels from CSC Jinling Shipyard in China, for delivery starting from 2020.

In order to achieve this fuel efficiency, the ships will be equipped with some cutting-edge technologies. Among these are two-stroke, electronically controlled engines, which offer lower consumption than four-stroke engines. Twin shaft lines and a combined rudder-propeller propulsion system will also improve efficiency. The hull will be optimised with a “reverse bulb” design and a special low-friction silicon coating. An air lubrication system under the keel will create a carpet of bubbles to reduce hydrodynamic resistance.

The new vessels will also be equipped with mega lithium batteries that are, until now, the world’s most powerful batteries ever to be installed on a ship. Charged during navigation via shaft alternators and taking advantage of solar panels and a number of energy-saving devices while at sea, they will be able to offer eight hours of zero-emissions power while the ships are in port. The batteries will also provide benefits during navigation through “peak shaving”, i.e. maintaining a constant, efficient engine speed and using the batteries to make any necessary adjustments.

Implementing all these innovative technologies will certainly be a challenge, but we are confident that with the support of RINA and Jinling Shipyard we will be successful. Jinling’s specialist experience in building ro-ro and car carrier vessels is one reason we chose them for the newbuilding project. In addition to the price competitiveness of Chinese shipbuilding, we have had good experiences working with Jinling over the last 10 years and they have always delivered on schedule. Our relationship with RINA is also excellent. Their approach to new technologies is practical and realistic, allowing us to achieve challenging projects by working together.

For existing ships and those scheduled for delivery in 2020, we will combine scrubbers with the use of batteries in port not just in order to comply with the IMO sulphur emissions cap but to go beyond it. It is not viable to retrofit existing ships to run on LNG, and reliable infrastructure to supply gas and electricity is not available in all ports. Perhaps in the future, we will be able to build ships powered purely by hydrogen. However, given the current situation of ships, ports, infrastructure and logistics, and given the type of ships in our fleet and the routes that they operate, scrubbers plus batteries are the winning solution for us. In fact, two of our super-large Grimaldi Lines ferries – Cruise Roma and
Cruise Barcelona – will undergo extensive refitting work next January, including extensions and the installation of scrubbers and batteries.

As well as physical measures to improve the efficiency of our operations, we are also adopting new digital technologies to help us with this. In addition to powerful monitoring systems to optimise energy efficiency during navigation and in port, we benefit from digital technologies that help us to manage bookings, organise logistics, communicate and share information, take care of customs formalities, and so on.

Working with experienced partners helps us to innovate and constantly optimise energy efficiency across the fleet. Most of our ships are classed by RINA and we have benefited from their assistance during newbuilding projects and many other initiatives. By adopting suitable technologies and taking bold steps to reduce fuel consumption and emissions, we will continue to elevate the image of Grimaldi Group as a forward-thinking company strongly committed to innovation and sustainability.

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