The shipping industry is an extremely polluting business. Leaders in the field have long advocated for measures that would see it becoming less of a blight on the world’s environment. We are entering an age in which shipping companies are expected to take responsibility for their environmental impact. Here are some ways the industry is seeking to improve.
The most environmentally friendly Seafreight companies recognize the environmental impact of their seafreight operations and seek to offset the carbon emissions that they create. The most popular method of carbon offsetting is the planting of evergreen trees. Trees, of course, remove carbon dioxide from the air and exude oxygen. Most companies do not directly plant trees. Instead, they buy what is known as a ‘carbon credit’ that enables them to fund tree planting somewhere in the world.
The more difficult it is for a ship to be propelled through the water; the more fuel it will use for every mile that it travels. Modern ships are designed using programs that calculate the most efficient hull shapes to the smallest possible margin. As shipping companies do away with their old ships and commission new ones, the overall efficiency of their fleets will increase. This will entail a more environmentally friendly service. Unfortunately, ships are immensely expensive to build and environmentally disastrous to scrap.
Alternative Marine Fuels
Typical marine cargo vessels run using diesel or diesel-electric engines. These engines burn diesel – which has a high carbon and sulphur content – to power either a direct shaft or a turbine generating electrical current. In recent years, a great deal of research has gone into the development of far less damaging marine fuels. These fuels are still usually fossil fuels and therefore damaging to the environment. However, they are low in Sulphur, which is very important in reducing greenhouse gasses. Port facilities will have to be updated to accommodate the refueling of alternative fuel-powered vessels.
What could be better than using green fuels? Using no fuel at all, of course! The second age of sail may be dawning as companies look to figure out how to reduce costs and environmental impact. Modern sailing vessels are extremely efficient. Because wind is now largely predictable through modern technology, shipping companies can easily plan journeys around expected wind levels, so they do not get stuck in the doldrums like the sailing ships of yore. Large sailing cargo vessels are expected to use 90 percent less fuel than their gas-guzzling cousins.
Perhaps it is time to bring inland barges back into fashion. Barges were largely superseded by rail and road freight at the end of the 19th century. The fact remains, however, that they are incredibly efficient methods of transporting bulk goods. Barges can make use of the economy of scale. Many cities are built near inland stretches of water where the barges used to pass through. It would not take much to rebuild small ports and marinas to unload cargo where it needs to be.
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