Shipbuilding Industries agree Steps to Carbon Neutrality

By Baek Byung-yeul

With extreme weather events such as floods, heat waves and polar vortex leakages hitting the planet, attention is shifting towards achieving carbon neutrality in many industry sectors, and the shipbuilding and shipping industries are no exception.

At the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) meeting in June, members of the UN unit that supervises regulations for the shipping industry, agreed on measures to reduce ships’ carbon dioxide emissions by 2 percent per year between 2023 and 2026.

The IMO has set a goal of reducing carbon and greenhouse gas emissions by 70 percent and 50 percent, respectively, by 2050, compared to their levels in 2008. The agreement is the first plan detailing the steps to reduce these emissions.

Following the strengthening of environmental regulations, Korean shipbuilders are accelerating their efforts to develop eco-friendly ships, such as liquefied natural gas (LNG)-powered vessels and related technologies, taking this trend as a new business opportunity. Shippers are also rushing to increase investment in developing technologies to cut their emissions.

Samsung Heavy Industries said in early July that it had succeeded in developing an LNG carrier that gets propulsion power from solid oxide fuel cells (SOFC), in collaboration with the U.S.-based company, Bloom Energy. SOFC constitute an eco-friendly technology that can replace marine propulsion engines and other devices run by fossil fuels.

Hyundai Heavy Industries Group also recently signed a partnership with Hyundai Motor Group to develop hydrogen fuel cell propulsion systems for marine ships.

To cut carbon emissions, HMM, the country’s largest shipper, signed contracts with Hyundai Heavy Industries and Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering to purchase 12 new container ships at the size of the 13,000 twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU) class of cargo capacity. These new containers will be installed with hybrid scrubbers, more energy-efficient than previous ships, giving the company strong environmental credentials.

In response to the changing trends, the Korean government is also swiftly establishing policies that can encourage local shipbuilders to develop eco-friendly ships.

On June 29, the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy announced what it calls its “Green Ship-K Strategy,” adding that the government will invest 254 billion won from 2022 to 2031 to develop eco-friendly vessels that run on hydrogen and ammonia.

“Eco-friendly vessels mean high value-added ships with low-carbon or zero-carbon ships that utilize eco-friendly fuels such as hydrogen and ammonia, as well as next-generation ship propulsion systems such as electricity or hybrid ships,” the ministry said.

The government aims to develop technologies that can reduce greenhouse gases by more than 70 percent compared to 2008 levels.

Park Jae-young, director general of the manufacturing industry department at the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, said that the preemptive move would help Korea bridge the technology gap with industry-leading countries.

“If we continue to develop the technology of high value-added ships and eco-friendly ships that our shipbuilding industry currently has, carbon neutrality will not only be a challenging task, but it will be a golden opportunity to create a super gap in the shipbuilding industry,” Park said during a meeting with shipbuilding industry officials in Ulsan, July 2.

Source: The Korea Times – Baek Byung-yeul.

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