©AIDA Cruises

SMM DIGITAL: An Industry Fuels Progress

Climate protection is the greatest challenge of our time – and the maritime industry is not exempt from it. The environmental conference gmec at SMM DIGITAL, the leading international maritime trade event, will point the way for the industry’s transition to lowemission shipping. The event will focus on eco-friendly propulsion technologies and alternative fuels. The entire programme of SMM DIGITAL is free of charge.

About a year ago the so-called “Sulphur Cap” went into effect. This regulation issued by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) prohibits ships from using fuels with a sulphur content of more than 0.5 per cent, otherwise ships must be retrofitted with exhaust gas cleaning systems. At gmec, the global maritime environmental congress during SMM DIGITAL, industry professionals will share insights gained during implementation of the new restrictions. The first discussion panel will include Heidi Paulsrud, scrubber expert at Wärtsilä; Wolfram Guntermann,Director Environmental Fleet Management at Hapag-Lloyd; Rasmus Stute, Area Business Development Manager at DNV GL; and Kjeld Aabo, Director New Technologies, Sales and Promotion Two-stroke Marine, MAN Energy Solutions.

More and more shipowners opt for liquefied natural gas (LNG). For example, last autumn CMA CGM commissioned its new flagship "Jacques Saadé", the world's largest LNG-powered container vessel. A few weeks ago, Hapag-Lloyd ordered six new LNG-ships in the same size category. Order value: roughly one billion dollars. The Hamburg-based shipowner had previously gained experience with the technology after retrofitting its "Brussels Express" (ex "Sajir”) for LNG operation. LNG is a straightforward way of complying with the sulphur cap. However, this fossil fuel saves only 15 to 30 per cent in greenhouse gas emissions. "It remains our long-term goal to achieve CO2-neutral ship operations by using synthetic gas," said Richard von Berlepsch, Managing Director Fleet at Hapag-Lloyd.

Alternative fuels

Further technological advances will be necessary to achieve the zero-emission goal, a notion confirmed by Hans-Jörg Kunze, Head of Communications at AIDA: "We are in agreement with both, our partners and our critics from the German nature conservation society NABU that LNG propulsion is only a first step, if an important one. Synthetic fuels will have to play a greater role in future, as will the use of green portside electricity, fuel cells and battery solutions." In the second gmec panel discussion, Kunze will explain the measures his cruise shipping company is currently implementing. For example, in a project called "Pa-X-ell2", AIDA, Meyer Werft and Thyssen Krupp Marine Systems are jointly testing the operation of fuel cells on board "AIDAnova". This technology is expected to allow the ship to travel short distances entirely emission-free.

It depends on hydrogen produced in an eco-friendly process using renewable energy. A future step would be synthetic natural gas (SNG) produced by methanising hydrogen. Scientists are still struggling to reduce the enormous energy losses when converting hydrogen to methane. But significant progress has been made. The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) has proposed to create a fund financed by a levy raised on fuel to support research into this and other alternative fuels. 

Calls for action

Shipowners know that investments in green propulsion technologies are inevitable. But how can they manage the financial burden? This is one of the questions that will be discussed by Editor-In-Chief Julian Bray and his guests at the TradeWinds Digital Forum, the partner conference of SMM DIGITAL. Other topics will include the importance of sustainability criteria in future ship financing schemes.

Will the decarbonisation schedule laid out for the shipping industry by IMO be sufficient? Environmental organisations and European shipbuilding associations have called it "not very ambitious". On the third gmec panel, representatives of Fridays For Future and NABU will be joined by leaders of the international shipping industry. Will they be able to find common ground? Conference viewers will find out by watching the free-of-charge streamed event on 3 February from 2:00 PM to 3:30 PM CET.

"As an innovative high-tech industry, the maritime sector already offers many eco-friendly technologies and presents them to the public in a transparent way. I am very excited that the NGOs Fridays for Future and NABU have responded to our invitation and agreed to engage in a conversation with players of the maritime industry at SMM DIGITAL. I am sure it will be a fascinating and instructive discussion," says Claus Ulrich Selbach, Business Unit Director – Maritime and Technology Fairs & Exhibitions at Hamburg Messe und Congress GmbH.

gmec will take place on 3 February from 3:00 PM to 3:30 PM. The TradeWinds Digital Forum can be viewed as a live stream on 2 February from 1:00 PM to 3:55 PM CET.

For further information please visit: www.smm-hamburg.com

About SMM

SMM, the leading international maritime trade fair, normally takes place at the Hamburg Messe und Congress (HMC) exhibition complex every two years. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 29th edition of the trade fair will be held as a purely digital conference from 2 to 5 February 2021. With the leitmotif “Driving The Maritime Transition”, SMM DIGITAL will bring together the maritime community. Its participants will be able to watch conferences featuring top-flight speakers on an online streaming platform. At SMM DIGITAL, international experts will discuss current challenges and innovative solutions for the maritime industry. The next SMM will take place from 6 to 9 September 2022.


Alexandra Neises
Project Manager
T. +49 40 3569-2163