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Eco-retrofits are a ‘hot topic’ says DNV GL

Eco-retrofits are a ‘hot topic’ says DNV GL
With the energy efficient newbuildings now the norm classification society DNV GL says eco-retrofits of existing vessels have become a “hot topic”.

Speaking to Seatrade Global Tor Svensen, ceo of maritime for DNV GL, said: “Today I see energy efficient ships have become the norm, nobody goes and buys anything other than an energy efficient ship today.”

This is a change that has happened relatively quickly since the onset of the global economic crisis in 2008. “Gradually as it’s become the norm it has become difficult to compete and offer the charterer a non-energy efficient vessel,” he explained.

One solution is to retrofit existing vessels to make them more energy efficient by methods such as installing a new bow and the fitting of Mewis ducts.

“We see today that we are working extremely hard on helping owners on optimising their hulls. Our advisory group is working flat out on projects both on new designs, but also evaluating and retrofitting existing ships. This has become really a hot topic,” Svensen said.

Interest has grown as owners have seen that retrofits do bring savings on fuel and therefore operating costs.

It is particularly the case for container ships, where older vessels are hit with a double whammy of having the wrong hull for slow steaming and lacking the economies of scale of new ultra large boxships in the 14,000 – 18,000 teu in capacity.

“Especially for container ships the main thing is they go slower and for container ships their hull form is sub-optimal for what they are designed for, “ he explained. On older ships the hull was optimised for a speed of 24.5 knots in fully laden condition, today the same ship is likely to be operating at just 16 knots.

A retrofit will, however, provide less than half the fuel savings of a newly designed ship. DNV GL figures show fuel savings of 3% - 7% for retrofits, while a Singapore shipyard executive estimated savings at 3% to 5%. By contrast new designs can deliver as much as 20% in fuel savings.

But for container ships where fuel can be as much as 70% of operating costs Svensen noted, “better fuel performance can be the difference between profitability and a loss for your whole operation”.