GL on Retrofitting: Enhance Performance, Cut Costs
Wednesday, June 05, 2013

A new manual from classification society Germanischer Lloyd (GL), presented at Nor-Shipping 2013 shows how owners can make use of a suite of retrofitting solutions to ensure that existing vessels remain economic. Today's newbuildings now consume up to 20 to 30% less fuel than vessels built only three to five years ago, which is leaving owners searching for solutions to remain competitive in the market.

"Retrofit technologies offer the comparatively young fleet of existing ships the chance to remain active and economically attractive to owners and operators," said Jan-Olaf Probst, GL's Global Ship Type Director. These eco-efficient technologies not only benefit the bottom line, but will have a positive impact on the ecological impact of the entire shipping industry".

The manual looks at how technical, operational and managerial solutions can increase the energy efficiency of existing vessels. It contains a number of possible options, background information on the technologies and important considerations for their implementation, as well as a chart which indicates the potential of the retrofit measure for each ship type in respect to its age, the required investment, payback time, ease of execution required planning time.

Over 30 technical measures suitable for energy efficiency retrofitting, grouped into such categories as hull and superstructure, propeller and rudder, main and auxiliary engine, supporting systems, energy consumers on board and capacity enhancement and outlined and assessed. Potential savings are often found in adapting a vessel to a vessel's current, rather than design, operating profile.

Measures taken to optimize hull, engine and propulsion, as well as supporting systems, can pay for themselves quickly. Fuel expenses are currently the largest single cost for shippers, some 30-60% depending on vessel segment and operational speed, and this cost pressure is set to increase.

The manual shows that while essentially all of the retrofitting technologies are known and proven solutions, the pace of retrofitting of existing vessels is much lower than could be expected. It identifies lack of information, confidence, capital and investment incentives for owners as significant hurdles to their uptake. A lack of retrofitting expertise also means that shipping companies can find it difficult to identify the optimum solution among the large variety of options available. While the economic assessment for individual retrofitting options also often fails to be made in a professional fashion.

"It is helpful to narrow down the solution space for the individual vessel and assess the different options in a structured way," Mr. Probst noted. "These hurdles can be overcome with the increased professionalization of the maritime industry." He also suggested that financial institutions could play a valuable role by being more ready to offer vessel owners adequate financial support.

"Partnerships between a shipping company, a technical advisor, a reputable solutions provider and a verifier to examine the savings, offer a great deal of promise," Mr. Probst said. "Together, they can address nearly all of the hurdles we have identified".

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