Our oceans are becoming the world’s global dustbin, polluted by oil spills, toxic waste, floating plastic—all of which are increasingly threatening marine life and the whole underwater ecosystem.
Ships have played an important part in this disastrous state of affairs, and for a long time have managed to avoid the opprobrium heaped on other sectors such as the automotive or the chemical industries. But the pressure is now on for the shipping industry to clean up its act. In 2018, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) announced a strategy to reduce the shipping industry’s CO2 emissions 40% by 2030.
The industry has started to look at the use of renewable energies, such as Solar PV, to reduce its carbon footprint and mixing it with other sources of energy on board. Hybrid systems combining fuel engines and electric batteries are increasingly used. The role of energy storage systems as well as the inclusion of renewable energy sources and emission free operations, are becoming important in the design of modern ship power systems.
The future of the maritime industry is moving towards all-electric ships. A number of barges and ferries already are propelled by battery power alone. The challenge is to improve battery technology so as to take up less space and weigh less on large vessels for long-haul journeys. The IEC is helping the industry meet these new challenges, via a number of Technical Committees, which are preparing Standards on several of these electrical technologies.
IEC TC 21 provides Standards for all secondary cells and batteries, including on board batteries for ships. IEC TC 23: Electrical accessories, publishes IEC 62613 on plugs, socket-outlets and ship couplers for high voltage shore connection systems. IEC TC 82: Solar photovoltaic energy systems, develops Standards dealing with the conversion of solar PV energy into electrical energy.
While there is still a lot to be done, at least some steps are being taken to improve the industry’s environmental impact