Demands grow for ‘green industrial revolution’

Offshore wind farm
The document plans for a massive expansion in offshore wind
Greenpeace has joined a growing list of organisations demanding that the UK government puts protecting the environment at the heart of any post-COVID-19 economic stimulus package.

The campaign group has produced a detailed “manifesto” with measures to boost clean transport and smart power.

The document follows a comparable call from some of Britain’s most powerful business leaders earlier this week.

Last week, the prime minister also expressed a similar ambition.

Boris Johnson said he wanted to see a “fairer, greener and more resilient global economy” after Covid-19 and that “we owe it to future generations to build back better”.

The manifesto also contains measures to support the protection of nature, green buildings and the creation of an economy in which virtually everything is reused.

Greenpeace says the crisis has given Britain a “once in a lifetime” opportunity to transform life, travel and work.

It added that the plan would create hundreds of thousands of secure jobs.

Green business

On Monday, more than 200 chief executives of some of the UK’s top firms – including HSBC, National Grid, and Heathrow airport – signed a letter to the prime minister asking him to use the Covid-19 lockdown as a springboard to “deliver a clean, just recovery”.

Many people may be surprised how similar the recommendations of these two very different interest groups are.

  • Both Greenpeace and the chief executives are asking the government to prioritise investments in low carbon technologies and calling for the decarbonisation of the British economy to be speeded up
  • Both say they want to see a focus on sectors that best support the environment
  • Both are demanding that financial support for ailing businesses must come with a requirement for them to commit to taking action to reduce their impact on the environment.

Greenpeace’s manifesto is, however, considerably more detailed.

It is a 62-page document with a specific policy, spending and tax measures covering most of the British economy.

It calls on the government to deliver its 2050 net-zero emissions goal before 2045.

Controversial policies

BikeImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionThe manifesto contains measures to encourage clean transport

Many voters say they support tackling climate change when polled.

However, lots of the policies Greenpeace proposes would prove very controversial.

For example, motorists say they are ready to change their behaviour to improve air quality, according to a recent AA survey.

But many drivers may balk at Greenpeace’s proposals to radically redesign the road network to favour walking and cycling, at the suggestion that petrol and diesel cars are banned by 2030 or that fuel duty is steadily increased.

Many homeowners might be reluctant to spend money to upgrade their properties to meet tough energy efficiency standards.

At the same time, many local communities are likely to resist the plan for a big increase in onshore wind and solar power to complement a proposed massive expansion of offshore wind farms – few things unite local communities like a proposal to put in an array of wind turbines.

Plastic bottles at recycling plantImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionThe manifesto proposes the creation of an economy in which virtually everything is reused

But, says Greenpeace, tough policies like these are essential if the government is going to take meaningful action to tackle climate change.

“The choices our government makes now will define… whether or not we succeed in the fight against the climate emergency”, says John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace.

“If we fail to get this right, we may never get another chance. Now is the time for a green recovery, and for that, we need action, not words.”

It says there would be huge dividends in terms of job creation, should its programme be adopted.

Greenpeace calculates that its plans would create hundreds of thousands of new high-skilled jobs as well as helping to level up inequalities between communities in the UK.

Unique opportunity

The UK government has already indicated that protecting the environment will feature heavily in any stimulus package.

Back in April, Boris Johnson said a post-COVID-19 recovery plan should include efforts to “turn the tide on climate change”.

Meanwhile, the European Union has unveiled what it called the biggest “green” stimulus in history.

Last week, it said it planned to commit a whopping €750bn (£667bn; $841bn) to its recovery package.

Add in spending from future budgets and the total financial firepower the European Commission says it will be wielding is almost €2tn (£1.8tn; $2.2tn).

Fighting climate change is at the heart of the bloc’s recovery from the pandemic.

There will be tens of billions of euros to make homes more energy-efficient, to de-carbonise electricity and phase out petrol and diesel vehicles.

The idea is to turbo-charge the European effort to reduce carbon emissions to net-zero by 2050.

“If we do not do it, we will be taking much more risk,” Teresa Ribera, deputy prime minister of Spain, told the BBC.

“The recovery should be green or it will not be a recovery, it will just be a shortcut into the kind of problems we are facing right now.”

‘Future-proofed’ ferries ready to go electric

The hybrid-electric, Island-class ferries will be converted to full electric once shore power is available
BC Ferries’ new hybrid-electric class is ready to be converted to fully electric propulsion

Damen Shipyards Group is building all six of BC Ferries’ new Island-class vessels at its Galati shipyard in Romania. The vessels are designed to carry 47 vehicles and up to 450 passengers and crew and will be capable of full-electric propulsion from new.

Two of the ferries were delivered in February 2020: Island Discovery and Island Aurora and are part of BC Ferries’ fleet renewal programme. These will replace 62-year-old North Island Princess and 51-year-old Quadra Queen II. In November, Damen announced it had secured a repeat order from BC Ferries for four additional Island-class ferries.

Discussing the transition from hybrid electric to full electric and the impact of this on the design and construction of the ferries, Damen product director ferries Henk Grunstra says: “When BC Ferries first started looking at using LNG for fuel, it was looking at adding the new Island-class ships to its fleet. It thought LNG for smaller ships was not the most attractive solution, so investigated using hybrid electric or full electric just as the Island-class was to be built.”

He explains the Canadian ferry operator needed a long-term solution, as the vessel will be deployed for the next 40-50 years. Therefore, BC Ferries decided it wanted to run the vessels as fully electric, but needed to start with hybrid-electric power as shore charging facilities are not currently available in the areas the vessels sail.

Mr Grunstra adds: “By starting with hybrid electric, BC Ferries can make the move later relatively easily. The hybrid technology is not a goal, but the first step to making vessels full electric.

“Electric sailing in British Columbia is very attractive as it has a lot of green energy. Therefore, BC Ferries kicked off with the battery pack and hybrid and we have made them ready for future developments so they can be converted to fully electric.”

Mr Grunstra says using hybrid technology makes the design of the vessels “a little more complicated” than full electric, as it requires building an energy power system that makes decisions about when to use batteries, when to use ultra-low sulphur fuel and when to use both. “That was a challenge,” he says “and we had to look at how BC Ferries would use the vessels in different locations. Since this is a class of vessels, the ships will sail in different locations and on different routes and one of the challenges was how to cater to different locations. The software and hardware have been arranged so they can be retuned for a specific operation.”

Island-class ferries have two battery rooms, each with 400 kW of batteries

Peak shaving

The hybrid-electric system will be used, among other ways, for peak shaving, to give the engines the most efficient load possible. Mr Grunstra says checking data from AIS and filtering out the way existing vessels operate was key to ensuring the engines were optimised. “These details determine the way the ship is operated. We had to start with the existing situation and see how the vessels were operating. Then we designed the hybrid solution for optimised operation.”

Over the next several months, the crew will be trained to sail the optimised system and the system may require fine-tuning.

The Island-class ferries have two battery rooms, each with 400 kW of batteries. There is room for these locations to be extended to each house 1,000 kW of batteries once the vessels are converted to fully electric.

Mr Grunstra says: “The electric systems in the ferries can cope with bigger batteries and they have been sized to do this; this means there is space in the switchboards. The only uncertainty is how the vessels will be charged – how the vessel connects to the existing infrastructure needs to be decided. But there are so many options this is not seen as an issue.”

Currently, within the hybrid-electric system, the engines charge the batteries. “We aimed for the engines to run at their most optimised setting,” he says. “The goal to make them fully electric means the energy savings will be much bigger than now.”

The Orca Energy batteries have been provided by Corvus, whose chief commercial officer Halvard Hauso explains: “These batteries are 800 kW which means they are not big enough for zero-emissions operations, but they are prepared for it. We sized the battery to the operational profile before shore power was installed. Once shore power is available, they will have room to expand the battery installation, by adding more to the same system. A hybrid ferry reduces costs and emissions by reducing fuel and at the same time reduces the need for maintenance as the engines are running fewer hours and at optimal loads. When they go full electric, they will save even more maintenance and emissions.”

Another strength of the Island-class ferries is the greatly reduced noise and vibration levels they offer.

Mr Grunstra says: “They are diesel-electric, which reduces noise and vibration and ensures the vessels are very quiet. The propellers are sized generously, so there is not a lot of load on the propulsion system, resulting in a very quiet ship. You can isolate the sources of noise easily on these ships and the electric-driven thrusters also reduce load noise. The propellers have a moderate load, which makes it easier to reduce vibration.”

Damen is also building two road ferries for Ontario that have a similar platform to the BC Ferries’ Island-class, but which will have shore charging included from the start. “They have bigger batteries and are charged at the shore after each run,” Mr Grunstra says. “They will run as full-electric all the time unless there are exceptional conditions.”

Henk Grunstra (Damen):“The hybrid technology is not a goal, but the first step to make vessels fully electric"

Henk Grunstra (Damen): “The hybrid technology is not a goal, but the first step to make vessels fully electric”

Snapshot CV

Damen Shipyards product director ferries Henk Grunstra has a long track record at Damen, starting in 1985 in the engineering department, later being responsible for high-speed and naval craft, luxury yachts and currently ferries

River cruise sustainability guide launched

River cruise sustainability guide launched

A guide offering best practices to river cruise operators on how to operate with as little environmental impact as possible has been developed by the Travel Foundation.

The ‘Environmental Sustainability for River Cruising’ is designed to support the river cruise tourism industry in working towards a sustainable future by identifying ways to reduce water and energy use, and waste generation on river cruise ships.

The best practices offered in the guide come from audits done on ships in Egypt, along the Nile, and in Europe, along the Danube, Rhine, and Rhône rivers.

Twelve Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection ships were audited. The recommendations made from the findings were used to form the basis of the guide, which provides training material for the river cruise industry at large in managing their own environmental performance.

The guidance will mark a breakthrough in reducing the environmental impact of river cruising tourism worldwide, charity the Travel Foundation claims.

Uniworld president Guy Young said: “With the growth of the river cruise sector, it is essential that we all do our part to ensure a healthy and sustainable future for our waterways, which is why we are so proud to be part of such an important first-of-its-kind project in the river cruise sector.

“All river cruise companies should seek to better understand and adopt environmental performance measures in an effort to prevent serious environmental impact in the destinations where we travel and operate.

“To this end, we hope this Environmental Sustainability for River Cruising guide will provide them with best practice examples, tools, and sources of further information, as well as a self-assessment checklist in their own efforts of continuous improvements towards a more sustainable future.”

Salli Felton, acting chief executive of the Travel Foundation, added: “It’s important that the river cruising sector addresses the environmental impact of its day-to-day operation, so that it can grow sustainably.

“We’ve broken the guide down into small manageable chunks so that companies can take a step-by-step approach to minimising the negative effect they may be having on the environment.”

Uniworld Boutique River Cruises are sold through Titan Travel in the UK.