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Maritime topics at Transportforum

12 January 2018

With 86 different parallel sessions, this year’s Transport Forum, arranged by VTI, attracted over 1,600 participants from all over Sweden. Four of the sessions had direct links with the maritime sector, but shipping was also represented at other sessions.

During the introduction Swedish Infrastructure Minister Tomas Eneroth said:

"The shipping is underutilized, it's climate smart and could be used a lot more. I will do all I can to continue to strengthen the Swedish shipping sector."

Tomas Eneroth also said that he will gather the Swedish ports to talk with them about technical development and the investments that need to be made.

Containerfeed Gothenburg - Kristinehamn
News presented during Transportforum was that company Swedish Orient Line plan for a container feed between Gothenburg and Kristinehamn. Behind the plans is Kristofer Andrén, SeaAdvise, who has had the idea for several years and been working full time with the project since spring 2017. The idea is to use a smaller sea vessel to also be able to reach other ports. An obstacle to achieve profitability is, however, pilot fees, says Kristofer Andrén, and told us that it costs 35,000 SEK in pilot fees to go between Gothenburg and Kristinehamn. The cost of hiring a vessel, including crew, is SEK 30,000.

"That balance is not reasonable," says Kristofer Andrén.

Several speakers talked about fees during the session that involved the transfer of goods by road to sea. Angelika Treiber from TransportForsk has participated in a pilot study on bulk and container goods in lake Mälaren. The conclusion is that current regulations and costs such as pilotage and port charges make it difficult to get inland waterway traffic profitable. The business model could be more profitable if it could extend inland waterway zones to some coastlines, but the wave height along the coast is too high for that to happen.

However, if you ignore pilot fees, profitability could be found in shipping solid fuels between Oxelösund and Västerås, a case study shows. 4.9 million tonnes of solid fuels are used in power plants around Mälaren, according to the study, of which 3.2 million tonnes are transported by truck. This corresponds to approximately 80,000 lorries per year.

Digitization and automation
Lighthouse’s Alexandra Bakosch were chairing a session on digitization, traceability and block chain. Among other things, the Lighthouse study about positioning of vehicles on roro vessels, were presented. The pre-study says, among other things, that, with the help of digitization and automation, it would easier to optimize loading and unloading of vehicles and thus increase safety. Read more about the preliminary study here:

Through digitization, there is today a completely different way of tracking individual items as well as packages. Cecilia Strokirk from GS1 said that using RFID and article numbers gives the possibility of traceability in all stages, from producer to end consumer. This makes it easier to plan your own business and act, for example, if there are disturbances or changes in the supply chain.

Block chain
Stena Bulk has completed a project with MIT to evaluate the impact of block chain on tanker shipping. Erik Möller from Stena Bulk described the block chain as a chain, where each link is a box where you store information. Each link has a mathematical algorithm that creates a unique hash / code string for that link, and the entire chain also has a unique hash. Changing something in a link also changes the hash code, which means that the information cannot be altered without notice.

A block chain application could be useful today's manual handling of billing documents (Bill of Lading) that handles large financial transactions. Today, for example, problems arise when the documents are sent to one port while the ship can be redirected to another port.

Focus on fuel
Mikael Johannesson, VTI and Karin Andersson, Chalmers, chaired, during Transportforum's second day, sessions focusing on fuel and fossil free shipping. Hannele Johansson from Energikontor Sydost presented a preliminary study on the possibilities for heavy vehicles, shipping and industry to use liquid biogas (LBG. However, the preliminary study has come to the conclusion that LBG is not a real option for the shipping sector right now. The price of liquid biogas is too expensive compared to other alternatives, such as LNG.

Fredrik Larsson from Swedish Shipowner’s Association, said that the technology for alternative fuels already exists, but that more research on economics, politics and law is required for it to become financially viable.

"In order to succeed in the conversion and move forward on sustainable fuels, it must be easier to do the right thing, to get a more even playing field," said Fredrik Larsson, and asked for financial instruments for investing in technology.

The road to fossil-free vessels
To get all the way to fossil-free ships, Carl Fagergren from Wallenius Marine raised three points as particularly important. 1. Reduce energy consumption, essentially lower speeds. 2. Take advantage of the non-emission sources available, sun, wind and waves. 3. Use some form of biofuel for the energy that is needed.

Carl Fagergren believes that LNG will grow and take over much of the market, but it's a transitional fuel. Eventually, there will be an involvement of LBG and later there will be a mix of other biofuels while using wind and sun more.

"It is completely possible to build emission-free today with existing technology. But it's not just about technology. For example, if you reduce the speed with 10 knots, you have to change the entire logistics system, more ships are required and customers have to accept longer delivery times”, says Carl Fagergren.

In the future, different types of shipping will require different fuels and Selma Brynolf from Chalmers highlighted three different combinations.

  • Electric motor + battery
  • Fuel cells + hydrogen / carbon-based fuel
  • Combustion engine + carbon-based fuel

Provided that electric motor + battery and fuel cells + hydrogen / carbon-based fuel will have negligible up stream emissions, they have high potential in terms of climate, health and acidification. However, the investment cost for batteries and fuel cells is high.

For internal combustion engines combined with coal-based fuels, investment costs are lower, but in addition to a sustainable fuel production, cleaning technicians are required on board the vessels.

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