June 23, 2024


A large cargo vessel loaded with containers sailing in sea.

Photo: alvarez (Getty Images)

Researchers at the Blue Visby Consortium developed a simple solution that will significantly cut the carbon emissions produced by international maritime shipping with expensive refits of already operating ships. The solution: sail slower. Last week, the research group released results from a two-month, two-ship trial showing a 17.3% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions. While the results are promising, it will take an industry-wide effort to make a positive impact on the planet’s climate.

The Blue Visby Solution isn’t a simple speed limit like you would see on a highway while driving your car. It’s a algorithm-based operational system where ships slow their cruising speed to arrive at port at the most opportune moment, similar to just-in-time shipping. The solution aims to replace the centuries-old approach of Sail Fast Than Wait (SFTW), where ships would arrive at their destination as quickly as possible than wait to dock. Blue Visby explains in a release:

SFTW cannot be addressed by individual ships, or bilaterally as between an individual shipowner and an individual charterer. It is a systemic challenge that requires a systemic solution. The Blue Visby Solution combines software, operations and contracts, so as to systemically optimise the ocean passage of participating ships, and thereby reduce CO2 emissions. It does not interfere with the voyage planning or weather routing of individual ships; and it does not interfere with berthing or with port operations.

Blue Visby claims the trial’s results proves that the solution has no impact of operations despite the reduced speeds. Two bulk carriers, the M/V Gerdt Oldendorff and the M/V Begonia, saw a 17.3% decrease in CO2 emission compared to traveling at its service speed of 14 knots, or about 16 miles per hour.

The shipping industry account for almost 3% of greenhouse emissions, according to the United Nations. The figure has gone up by 20% over the past decade. If the Blue Visby Solution is adopted across the industry, the increase in emissions could be wiped out overnight with no weird or costly modifications to the ships themselves. The only real obstacle is getting the entire planet to agree on doing something.

A version of this article originally appeared on Jalopnik.



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