Older ships: sticking around. File Image / Pixabay
Orders for newbuilds are currently at 10% of the global fleet, compared to over 50% in 2008. It's a gap that is keeping more ships with lower efficiency in service for longer, at a time when ship operators are looking to reduce vessel emissions, according to Reuters.
Of the vessels on order, more than a third, or 741, are set to use LNG, 24 can be driven by methanol and six by hydrogen. Another 180 have some form of hybrid propulsion using batteries, the report said citing shipping industry data.
Many shipping firms are hedging their bets mainly because prolonging the life span of vessels is cheaper and lower risk than new builds. They also gain breathing space while waiting for the winning new technologies to become mainstream.
"They would rather wait for maybe the whole life of the ship of 20 years, but that's even more uncertain now because of the pace of change," John Hatley, general manager of market innovation in North America at Finnish marine technology company Wartsila is quoted saying.
And while more than a fifth of global shipping capacity is fitted with energy-saving devices such as Flettner rotors or air lubrication systems, the question for shipowners remains how to future proof their ships to avoid making investment decisions they may later regret.