SMM Hamburg Kicks Off

Within 20 minutes of arriving in Hamburg yesterday I was sitting at my first press conference of the week, the first of many I will attend this week while at the biannual SMM Hamburg maritime trade show – the world’s largest of its kind.

I was here two years ago and was astounded by the sheer scale of it all.  For anyone who’s ever been to the Offshore Technology Conference in Houston, it’s perhaps twice as big as that, maybe bigger and if you want to be functional by the end, comfortable shoes are a must.  To get from one side to the other is about a 20 minute walk.

Kicking off yesterday’s pre-SMM event were the folks from Zeppelin Power Systems, an Achim, Germany-based provider of drive, propulsion, traction and energy systems, and official dealer of Cat and MaK engines, who signed an agreement with Optimarin to become the exclusive dealer of their ballast water treatment systems in Germany, Poland, Russia and all CIS countries with the exception of Ukraine.

optimarin ballast water treatment system
A rendering of Optimarin’s 2000 m3 per hour ballast water treatment system

Optimarin currently has their ballast water treatment systems aboard 180 ships worldwide with more than 300 orders having been placed, according to CEO Tore Andersen.  Interestingly, less than half of those ships are actually using their installed systems while owners await the official ratification of the IMO’s ballast water convention in 2015.  40 countries have so far ratified the convention representing 30 percent of the world’s tonnage of ships.  Once in force however, Optimarin notes that about 35,000 ships will be affected globally, as well as 1,200 newbuilds.

Next up was a round-table discussion on the subject of zero emissions port calls.  The panel included:

  • Eero Lehtovaara, Senior Vice President, BU Marine & Cranes at ABB
  • Torsten Klimke, the European Commission’s Head of Sustainable Shipping
  • Dr. Monika Griefahn, Chief Sustainability Officer, AIDA Cruises
  • Roger Strevens, Vice President at Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics and Chairman of the Trident Alliance
  • Uwe von Bargen, Environmental Director at the Port of Bremen
  • Malte Siegert, Head of Environmental Policy at Naturschutzbund Deutschland (NABU).

With extremely stringent emissions regulations for ships coming into force soon, ports are looking at ways to reduce or completely eliminate the emissions from ships that enter their harbors, as well as the emissions from the cranes and tugs that service these ships.

ABB’s Eero Lehtovaara notes that the technology is already there to conduct such calls, but von Bargen from the Port of Bremen points out that there has to be a cost-effective model for doing so as this technology has a significant cost associated with it.

Lehtovaara brought up the point that tugs for example, spend 95 percent of their existence using only 5 percent of their installed power.  Such vessels are ideal candidates for battery power and hypothetically, their batteries could also be used as peak shaver for ports while being charged via wind, solar or tidal power when pierside.

Keeping the air clean in ports is a step in the right direction, but enforcement is a significant problem, commented Roger Strevens, Chairman of the Trident Alliance.  Only 1 in 1000 ships are ever tested for emissions compliance and the penalties for noncompliance are minimal as compared to the costs associated with installing scrubbers or burning low sulfur fuel.   The temptation to not comply with the rules must be dealt with directly, he notes, which is a main focus of the Trident Alliance.

Malte Siegert was in agreement and simply notes that ships must be held accountable if they cannot comply with the standards.  His organization says that there are 420,000 premature deaths in the EU per year linked to poor air quality, 60,000 of which can be attributed to shipping.  This generates approximately 766 billion euro per year in health costs to the EU.

“We know it’s not good enough,” added Torsten Klimke on the subject of dealing with non-compliant ships, but it’s the EU member states that set the fine for such violations.  For the EU, there’s a fine balance between strangling the industry with regulation and maintaining innovation, notes Klimke.  He adds that 250 million euro has been earmarked for shipping-related projects and that by 2025, a certain number of ports will be required to provide LNG and shoreside electricity for ships.

With that… I’m out of time, gotta get to the show.  Lots more going on at SMM Hamburg today though, drop me a line at [email protected] if you have an update from the event you’d like us to mention for tomorrow.  Keep it short and sweet though, no more than 150 words…