The Greenheart project is amongst those revolutionising the shipping sector by utilising renewable energy sources to power a new generation of ocean going craft. Illustration: Greenheart project
Will renewable energy fuel a new generation of eco-shipping?
4th October 2010
B9 Shipping and the Greenheart project are pioneering new, fully sustainable, forms of ship design. Despite industry scepticism the boats - based on wind power and biomethane - could signify a return to the great age of sail, reports Ewan Kingston
Shipping will never be green, right? Cargo ships: those fossil-fuel-guzzling hulks, are ubiquitous. The International Maritime Organisation reports that the global shipping industry emits over a billion tonnes of CO2 per year – an output equal to Germany's – and produces large amounts of black carbon and toxic oxides of sulphur to boot. There's still no agreed upon mechanism to render the industry responsible for its greenhouse gas emissions. At the end of their lives, ships are dismantled in dangerous and toxic conditions in the less developed countries.
But shipping doesn't have to be an environmentalist's nightmare. While shipping has a footprint on a par with aviation, it manages to carry carry 90% of the world's total volume of freight. An Ecologist investigation published in 2009 highlighted energy-saving technologies that have the potential to reduce the carbon footprint of conventional shipping by up to three-quarters. Now recent developments in the world of shipping is mean plans for 100% renewably powered ships are drawing close to fruition.
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