United States: MEPC Adopts Regulations On Energy Efficiency For Ships—Will Result In Reductions In Fuel Consumption And GHG Emissions From Ships

Last Updated: January 3 2012
Article by Charles E. Wagner

The IMO Marine Environment Protection Committee ("MEPC") recently adopted amendments to the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships ("MARPOL") Annex VI—Regulations for the Prevention of Air Pollution—establishing energy efficiency standards for ships. The amendments were adopted on July 15, 2011 at MEPC's 62nd session and are the first mandatory requirements arising out of the IMO's efforts to reduce greenhouse gas ("GHG") emissions from international shipping. MEPC had approved several voluntary measures to improve the energy efficiency of ships in 2009 while a working group continued to develop technical, operational, and market based measures to reduce GHG emissions. The Regulations on Energy Efficiency for Ships, which can be found in the new Chapter 4 added to Annex VI, require that ships attain a certain Energy Efficiency Design Index ("EEDI") and develop and implement a Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan ("SEEMP"). In addition, each ship covered by the regulations will be required to obtain an International Energy Efficiency ("IEE") Certificate. The new requirements apply to new ships or ships that undergo a major conversion. In accordance with MARPOL, the Regulations on Energy Efficiency for Ships will be deemed to have been accepted on July 1, 2012 unless one-third of the parties or parties with combined merchant fleets constituting not less than 50% of the gross tonnage of the world's merchant fleet object to the amendments. The regulations will enter into force on January 1, 2013.

Applicability of Regulations on Energy Efficiency for Ships

The new regulations will apply to all ships over 400 gross tons. New ships must be designed and constructed to meet a required EEDI. A new ship is a ship when: (1) the shipbuilding contract is placed on or after January 1, 2013, (2) in the absence of a shipbuilding contract, the keel is laid on or after July 1, 2013, or (3) a delivery is made on or after July 1, 2015. Moreover, existing ships that undergo a major conversion must meet the required EEDI. A major conversion means a conversion: (1) which substantially alters the dimensions, carrying capacity, or engine power of the ship, (2) which changes the type of the ship, (3) which is intended to substantially prolong the life of the ship, or (4) which otherwise so alters the ship that it becomes subject to EEDI provisions.

The regulations allow a party administrator to waive compliance with the required EEDI standards for up to four years. The EEDI standard only applies to certain types of ships and does not apply to ships with diesel-electric propulsion, turbine propulsion, or hybrid propulsion systems.

All ships will be required to have a SEEMP that will include procedures to improve the ship's energy efficiency.

Energy Efficiency Design Index

The new regulations will reduce GHG and other air pollution emissions by requiring new ships to reduce their EEDI from an existing baseline EEDI. The EEDI is a calculation based upon a ship's technical characteristics, such as hull dimensions and form, propeller design, propulsion system, fuel usage, and other factors. IMO developed EEDI values for the existing international fl eet by type of ship. A "reference line value" was determined by fi tting a curve through the data for the fl eet. The mathematical formula for the curve determines the reference line value. The formula uses the deadweight of the ship and numerical factors based upon the type of ship. The type of ships subject to the EEDI requirements are: (1) bulk carrier, (2) gas carrier, (3) tanker, (4) container ship, (5) general cargo ship, (6) refrigerated cargo carrier, and (7) combination carrier. MEPC continues to study whether other types of ships should be subject to the EEDI standard.

The regulations establish a "Required EEDI", which is the reference line value reduced by a factor (percentage). The regulations phase in reductions from the reference line value in four phases. Phase 0 is the base line without reduction and runs from January 1, 2013 to December 31, 2014. Phase 1 requires a 10% reduction and goes from January 1, 2015 to December 31, 2019. Phase 2 requires a 20% reduction from the base line and runs to December 31, 2024. Phase 3 requires a cumulative 30% from the base line and begins January 1, 2025. The percentage reductions apply to larger vessels in each ship category. For smaller vessels, the required reduction factor may be less based on a vessel's deadweight. At the beginning of Phase 1 and again at the midpoint of Phase 2, the IMO will review the status of the technical developments and revise the time periods and reduction factors, if needed.

An "Attained EEDI" must be calculated for each new ship or each ship that has undergone a major conversion. The Attained EEDI must be less than or equal to the Required EEDI to comply with the regulations. If the design of a ship allows it to fall into more than one of the ship types, then the Required EEDI for the ship shall be the most stringent (the lowest) Required EEDI.

The Attained EEDI is specific to each ship and must indicate the estimated energy efficiency performance of the ship. There must be an EEDI technical file containing all the information needed to calculate the EEDI. The calculation must be included and must follow guidelines developed by the IMO. The EEDI technical file must be verified by the party administrator or its authorized representative.

During MEPC's session, concerns were raised about underpowering vessels in order to meet the Required EEDI. Consequently, the regulations were revised to provide that the installed propulsion power shall not be less than the propulsion power needed to maintain the maneuverability of the ship under adverse conditions in accordance with IMO guidelines.

Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan

The amendments to Annex VI require that all ships of 400 gross tons or more keep on board a ship specific SEEMP. The SEEMP may be a part of the ship's Safety Management System. The SEEMP should be developed in accordance with IMO guidelines. The guidelines cover fuel efficient operations, including improved voyage planning, weather routing, "just in time" port procedures, speed optimization, and optimized shaft power. The guidelines for optimized ship handling include optimizing trim, ballast, propeller and propeller infl ow considerations, and optimizing the use of rudder and autopilot systems. Other elements that may be included in a SEEMP include hull maintenance, propulsion system maintenance, waste heat recovery, energy management, use of alternative fuels, improved cargo management, and improved fl eet management. The SEEMP should include an implementation system, monitoring, and recordkeeping provisions.

Other Chapter 4 Requirements

The new ship energy efficiency regulations include several other provisions. These include surveys and the requirement for an IEE Certificate. A survey is required before a new ship is put in service and after a major conversion for existing ships. A verification of the SEEMP on board is required for the first intermediate or renewal survey on or after January 1, 2013.

An IEE Certificate for each ship shall be issued after a survey and before that ship may engage in voyages to ports or offshore terminals under the jurisdiction of other parties. The certificate shall be issued either by the party administration or any organization duly authorized by it. The IEE Certificate shall be valid for the life of the ship until the ship is withdrawn from service, a new certificate is issued following a major conversion, or the transfer of the ship to the flag of another State. With respect to the new regulations, port State inspections shall be limited to verifying that there is a valid IEE Certificate.

Implementation in the United States

As noted above, the Annex VI Regulations on Energy Efficiency for Ships will enter into force on January 1, 2013. The United States ratified Annex VI on October 8, 2008 and the Annex entered into force for the United States on January 8, 2009. In July 2008, President Bush signed into law the Maritime Pollution Prevention Act of 2008, which implemented Annex VI by amending the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships. Amendments to Annex VI are self implementing through the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships.

The Coast Guard will implement the ship energy efficiency regulations in the U.S. The Coast Guard has reserved 33 CFR Part 152 for the new regulations. Given the January 2013 entry into force, it is anticipated that the final rules implementing Chapter 4 of Annex VI will be issued in late 2014. Shipowners, ship operators, shipbuilders, ship designers, marine diesel engine and equipment manufacturers, and other interested groups should monitor the Coast Guard rulemaking.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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