EU/IMO Global Project Drives Energy Efficiency in the Maritime Sector

IMO Briefing: 23 17/10/2019

A global network of maritime technology cooperation centres has completed an impressive array of pilot projects over the past three years, helping to drive forward the changes which are required to reduce GHG emissions from shipping.

Five regional Maritime Technology Cooperation Centres (MTCCs) have been established under the Global Maritime Technology Cooperation Centres (GMN) Project, which is funded by the European Union and implemented by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the United Nations specialized agency with a remit to develop and adopt standards for safer, greener and more sustainable shipping. 

Between them, the MTCCs count 97 participating countries and have been working with 1,179 participating vessels to deliver sets of data which can help inform and support energy efficiency improvement. Port energy audits and retrofitting of domestic vessels for better energy efficiency are just two ways in which results are already being seen.

More than 160 people from 64 countries recently met for the third annual GMN conference, held together with World Maritime University (WMU) at the University's premises in Malmö, Sweden (8-10 October).

During the conference, representatives from the five MTCCs reported on their pilot projects which assess a range of measures to help cut emissions in the maritime sector. These range from data collection in accordance with IMO MARPOL requirements, to assessing the impact of local improvements in ports, to reducing emissions in port areas. 

"There is no silver bullet to decarbonise shipping - a basket of measures is needed ranging from framework conditions, standards and innovation to funding and economic incentives," said Ms. Petra Doubkova, Policy Officer of DG MOVE, European Commission.   

As well as pilot projects, each MTCC is involved in hosting and arranging regional and national workshops and seminars, to raise awareness of IMO's energy efficiency measures for ships and to deliver capacity building through training.  

"The MTCC Network is a project that unites maritime experts from all over the world in five MTCCs, to provide capacity building for climate mitigation in the maritime shipping industry. Its work plays an invaluable part in promoting global awareness and in developing global solutions to mitigate GHG emissions from shipping through efficient and sustainable energy use," said Dr. Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry, WMU President.  

"Climate change is a global challenge, and it is only if we work together and share our knowledge and technologies on energy efficiency and renewable energy production, that we can be successful in mitigating climate change," Dr. Doumbia-Henry said.

Successful regional projects

MTCC-Caribbean has been coordinating regional efforts in two pilot projects: one to establish a maritime energy efficiency baseline and cost/benefit analysis for different energy efficiency technologies and the other a system for collecting fuel consumption data throughout the Caribbean. "The pilot projects have definitely raised awareness in the Caribbean; evidenced, for example, by the fact that now local stakeholders are looking into developing local solutions, such as alternative fuels," said Captain Sukhjit Singh, Deputy Director and Technical Head of MTCC-Caribbean.

MTCC Asia has been developing a software tool to help ships' crews record fuel consumption and is working on ways of optimising the angle at which ships float in the water ("trim"), to improve their performance; and has also been conducting ship fuel oil consumption data collecting and reporting. Fifteen demonstration ships have, to date, provided 68,517 sets of data relating to ship fuel consumption and ship optimum trim. Prof. Wei Ruan, Head of MTCC-Asia, told the conference that the guidelines on ship trim optimization will be circulated to more than 1000 ocean-going vessels, highlighting the positive local and regional impact of the pilot project. 

MTCC Latin America has organised several workshops, throughout the region, to help maritime authorities and other stakeholders fulfil their obligations under IMO's international regulations on energy efficiency. Its pilot projects have focused on examining the barriers and constraints faced by regional ship owners and operators when implementing the IMO regulations and on collection of fuel consumption data.   

MTCC Africa has also been collecting fuel consumption data and has developed standardized e-forms for data collection equipment (tablets), enabling ships' crews to input key parameters, such as fuel type, fuel consumed, engine rating and so on, and then upload this via satellite to a web-based platform - where it can be processed and analysed. By the end of 2018, more than 1000 data sets had been collected. A demonstration pilot project on port energy audits is also being implemented.

MTCC Pacific has been focusing on uptake of ship energy efficient technologies and operations (including for domestic shipping and on the port side) and on fuel oil consumption data collection and reporting. The positive impact of these efforts in the Solomon Islands, one of the beneficiary countries, was highlighted in an IMO GMN video earlier this year: full energy efficiency and emissions audit in the port of Honiara, Solomon Islands has helped authorities cut emissions considerably.

Future action

The GMN project is continuing, through the MTCCs, to work with local stakeholders and push forward with raising awareness of energy efficiency in the maritime sector. The MTCCS are perfectly poised to continue to implement measures locally and regionally, in order to meet the challenges which action on climate change demands, in line with the Paris Agreement.  

IMO has adopted its own initial IMO strategy on reduction of GHG emissions from ships, which  envisages a reduction of CO2 emissions per unit of transport work, the so-called carbon intensity, as an average across international shipping, of at least 40% by 2030  - and, at the same time, pursuing efforts towards a 70% reduction by 2050, compared to 2008. It also envisages a reduction of total annual GHG emissions of at least 50% by 2050 compared to 2008, aiming to phase them out as soon as possible. The role of MTCCs is specifically captured in the IMO Initial Strategy.

"If international shipping is to achieve at least 50% reduction by 2050, what this really means is an average 85% emissions reduction per ship," said Edmund Hughes, Head, Air Pollution and Energy Efficiency, IMO. "The MTCCs are looking into technical and operational measures for energy efficiency - and this is why the MTCCs are so important; and we commend them."

About the GMN project

The GMN project is funded by the European Union and implemented by the International Maritime Organization (IMO).   

The project was born out of a concept to develop a global network of maritime technology cooperation centres to accelerate capacity building and technology transfer in the maritime field. This idea was mooted in September 2015 during the inaugural Future-Ready Shipping Conference, a joint IMO-Singapore international conference on maritime technology transfer and capacity building.

Four years on, and thanks to a €10 million funding contribution from the European Union , the GMN project has come into fruition and five MTCCs have been established and have, to date, involved more than 2,210 participants in more than 50 maritime energy efficiency workshops, as well as delivering on pilot projects. They are:  MTCC Africa; MTCC Asia; MTCC Caribbean; MTCC Latin America; and MTCC Pacific. EC funding for the project has now been confirmed until September 2020.

GMN website:  http://gmn.imo.org/


MTCC-Africa, hosted by Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, Mombasa, Kenya

MTCC-Asia, hosted by Shanghai Maritime University, China

MTCC-Caribbean, hosted by University of Trinidad and Tobago, Trinidad and Tobago

MTCC-Latin America, hosted by International Maritime University of Panama, Panama

MTCC-Pacific, hosted by Pacific Community, Suva, Fiji


For a full album of photos from the conference, click here. 

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