The cruise industry has invested over $23.5 bill in on board and portside technologies, including cleaner fuel sources, to reduce its environmental impact, according to a new report published by the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA).
This represents an increase of around $1.9 bill since the 2019 report was published.
While cruise ships amount to far less than 1% of the global maritime community’s emissions, this report produced by Oxford Economics, illustrates how cruise lines have taken a leadership role in the adoption of maritime technologies that benefit the entire shipping industry, CLIA claimed.
CLIA members drive global compliance with emissions and waste management standards through MARPOL and partners with government bodies to apply more stringent regional standards to satisfy regulatory structures in accordance with the association’s environmental policy, the association said.
In addition, members have commenced unified efforts to achieve ambitious goals and meet rising expectations.
The 2020 Environmental Technologies and Practices (ETP) inventory, conducted by CLIA, covered 258 oceangoing cruise ships representing 98.5% of existing global passenger capacity, as well as including build specifications for 76 ships currently on order.
The primary areas covered by the survey were advanced wastewater treatment systems (AWTS), LNG and other alternative fuels, exhaust gas cleaning systems (EGCS), plus shoreside power capability.
The variety of initiatives reflects two key approaches to improving fleetwide environmental performance – new ships built to more sustainable specifications and retrofitting existing ships to replace and improve technologies already in operation.
Progress across multiple strategies illustrates CLIA’s view that it is integral, urgent, and feasible to balance fostering growth with policy and technology changes that help preserve the air and oceans in which the industry operates, the association said.
Cruise operators are addressing air emissions by transitioning to cleaner burning fuels, such as LNG, biofuels, and synthetic fuels, while installing EGCS on ships that rely on legacy fuel sources.
Currently, LNG is the primary alternative fuel source being implemented, due to its strong environmental performance, growing land-based infrastructure, and established technological viability, the report said.
The cruise industry is working closely with partners to mitigate the potential risk associated with burning LNG and methane slip. Natural gas extraction, refinement, and distribution operations have grown, aided by both environmental and economic efficiency, enabling cruise ships to refuel at ports worldwide.
With the introduction of a fourth LNG-operated ship to the global cruise fleet, there are currently 25 ships on order or under construction designed to operate on LNG as their primary propulsion, representing 49% of new passenger capacity.
Investment, development, and adoption of still cleaner-burning biofuels and synthetic fuels face key hurdles, such as fuel density, safe storage, and global availability. However, today’s engine technology enables LNG-reliant ships to transition to future fuel sources with minimal structural intervention required, the report claimed.