DNV has partnered with a sustainable shipping alliance on a study aimed at decarbonising shipping in the Baltic and North Sea.

The classification society and the Responsible Shipping Initiative – and alliance of Swedish dry bulk charterers – announced the feasibility study on 5 January.

It aims to develop a commercial framework for orders of green-fuelled newbuilds.

DNV said RSI alliance members see a need for green newbuilds to replace the ageing shortsea fleet operating in the Baltic and North Sea dry bulk trade.

Many of the vessels are expected to reach the end of their economic life in the next five to 10 years,

The study aims to find opportunities for green fleet renewal through transport systems, analysis and interaction with cargo owners shipowners, suppliers and authorities.

“Despite great strides being made to reduce our carbon footprint from land transport, progress has been lagging in shipping, even though this accounts for a large share of our transport needs,” RSI chairman Sebastian Tamm said.

“This market-driven initiative is a great opportunity to share knowledge, define parameters and standards, find common ground and discuss possible synergies to determine what is achievable in relation to future shipping needs,” he said.

“Through an exchange of knowledge and information, shipowners will be able to gain a better understanding of the market’s requirements to make the right newbuild investment decisions.”

DNV said the study will analyse the consequences of introducing new vessels based on two alternative green shipping concepts.

The first is the ECO-Bulk concept, designed to reduce emissions as much as possible within current commercial terms.

The second is the ZERO-Bulk concept for zero emissions, expected to require more collaboration and longer commitments between stakeholders.

DNV said the analysis will examine different scenarios and business models such as collaboration between shipowners and bunker suppliers and public investment support.

It is also to factor in new environmental regulations including the EU’s Emissions Trading System for shipping.

Hannes von Knorring, principal consultant at DNV Maritime, said shipowners’ uncertainties around what the market is willing to pay for over the lifetime of a new vessel is a challenge to the uptake of alternative fuels.

“Transport buyers may also lack information on what options are available, and what the practical consequences are to their value chains,” Mr Knorring said.

“We have started by mapping each participating company’s current transport routes, cargo volumes, employed vessels and ports to understand the logistical and cargo handling requirements and identify areas with the largest potential for green fleet renewal.”

Mr Tamm said RSI has already discussed possible synergies in supply of alternative fuels and access to shore power, and how to use vessels more efficiently.

“Through this project, we will better understand the solutions that can be deployed, tailored to the needs of a large group of cargo owners,” he said.

“I’m hopeful that in the next five years this could lead to standardized vessel sizes in the regional trades with that can meet our transport needs with much lower emissions.”

The feasibility study is supported by R&D funding from the Swedish traffic administration Trafikverket.