MV Maersk Mc-Kinney Moller

New Ships 10% Less Fuel Efficient Than Those Built in 1990, Study Claims

Mike Schuler
Total Views: 5
April 14, 2015

An aerial view of the 2013-built MV Maersk Mc-Kinney Moller, part of the Maersk Triple-E class, as it arrives at the harbour of Gdansk August 21, 2013. REUTERS/Renata Dabrowska/

A new study commissioned by the environmental groups Seas At Risk and Transport & Environment claims that new ships today are no more efficient than they were over twenty years ago, despite shipping industry claims to the contrary.

In fact, the study, titled Historical trends in ship design efficiency, actually found the the average fuel efficiency of ships built in 2013 has deteriorated 10% when compared to those built in 1990. In particular, the study found that that bulk carriers, tankers, and container ships built in 2013 were on average 12, 8 and 8% less fuel efficient, respectively, than those built a quarter of a century ago.

The study also shows that, in general, the design efficiency of new ships improved significantly in the 1980s, was at its best in the 1990s and has deteriorated in the 2000s.


The study looked at the historical development of the design efficiency of ships in terms of efficiency indicator values (EIVs), a simplified form of the Energy Efficiency Design Index, or EEDI, of ships built over the last 50 years.

EEDI is a standard measurement of a ship’s design efficiency – expressed in grams of carbon dioxide (CO2) per ship’s capacity-mile (the smaller the EEDI the more energy efficient ship design). As of January 1, 2013, all news ships are to meet a specific minimum efficiency level for each individual ship design under MARPOL Annex VI. The levels are then required to be tightened incrementally every five years so as to stimulate innovation and promote the use of energy efficient technology and equipment throughout the design phase.

Currently, reduction rates have been established through 2025 when a 30% reduction compared to the average efficiency for ships built between 2000 and 2010 is mandated.

The study was jointly commissioned by the non-governmental organisations Seas and Risk and Transport & Environment, and co-authored by Jasper Faber and Maarten ‘t Hoen from the independent research and consultancy organization CE Delft.

The IMO is set to review future stringency levels of the EEDI during a meeting  of its Marine Environmental
Protection Committee next month.

The environmental group’s are hoping that the study will influence more clear and ambitious internationally required targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from ships.

Bill Hemmings, clean shipping manager at Transport & Environment, said: “The truth is out! Aircraft and cars have become more fuel efficient, but despite a generation of technological improvements, ships have largely gone backwards for most of the past 25 years. The IMO’s design efficiency standard for new ships itself needs a redesign and strengthening if the standard is not supposed to merely bring us back to levels achieved 25 years ago.”

The full study can be found HERE.

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