IMO Reports Progress on Vessel Energy Efficiency

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Significant progress was made in developing measures to enhance energy efficiency in international shipping, and thereby reduce greenhouse gas emissions, when the second intersessional meeting of IMO's Working Group on Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHG) from Ships was held at IMO's London headquarters from 9 to 13 March 2009.

The meeting will report to IMO's Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) when it meets for its 59th session in July.

The working group, which was attended by more than 200 experts from all over the world, concentrated on the technical and operational measures to reduce GHG from ships - two of the three pillars of IMO's GHG work. The third pillar, possible market-based instruments, will be debated in depth at MEPC 59.

The working group considered a large number of papers from Member Governments and observer organizations on how to increase fuel efficiency in the world fleet.

The main focus was the further refinement of the Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) for new ships, on the basis of experience gained through its trial application over the past six months. The EEDI is meant to stimulate innovation and technical development of all the elements influencing the energy efficiency of a ship, thus making it possible to design and build intrinsically energy efficient ships of the future.

The group also considered how to improve the Energy Efficiency Operational Index (EEOI), which enables operators to measure the fuel efficiency of an existing ship and, therefore, to gage the effectiveness of any measures adopted to reduce energy consumption.  The EEOI has been applied by Member States and the shipping industry, on a trial basis and since 2005, to hundreds of ships in operation; it provides a figure, expressed in grams of CO2 per tonne mile, for the efficiency of a specific ship, enabling comparison of its energy or fuel efficiency to similar ships.

The experts at the meeting debated over a draft Ship Energy Management Plan (SEMP) that has been developed by a coalition of industry organizations and agreed to forward it to MEPC 59 for further consideration.  The draft SEMP incorporates guidance on best practices, which include improved voyage planning, speed and power optimization, optimized ship handling, improved fleet management and cargo handling, as well as energy management for individual ships.

The outcome of MEPC 59 will be presented to the Conference that the United Nations will convene in Copenhagen in December 2009, which is set to agree on a successor instrument to the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

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