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Billion dollar questions

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Owner’s representative, during a cruise ship project once said to me: “You may pay a billion dollars to build a ship, but that is not enough to get what you wanted!”

I have to admit, that my own experience supports his sarcastic opinion.

Sometimes it really has been a feeling like being Don Quijote, fighting against the barriers on new ideas and limitations by medium effort. Innovativeness is easily left half-way on purpose and even abandon in case prove is not evident. We, the ship building industry, have been too conservative. Attitude has been that “If the owner doesn’t pay extra, why should we consider something else but the standard?”. We can surely do better, so in the future we should. Innovativeness works for efficiency, efficiency works for the nature.

Luckily the world has started to change. And the winds of feared climate change are blowing stronger and stronger. We cannot let them to be unnoticed. We cannot let any important decisions pass by, without taking the environmentally more friendly options into account. Now it starts to be everybody’s responsibility to do whatever is in their hands to do. Every bubble of CO2 counts. Social pressure is present and I warmly welcome it.  I would even say that there should be New Engineering Principle for ship design: always make more sustainable selection when possible.

How could we reach that? Could we follow this principle already from the next decision?

Writing the ships technical purchase specification is a difficult task. Writing it with holistic attitude nearly impossible. Not to mention building it with holistic targets, that is a Himalaya. But yet we have to try our best and to push the limits in order to learn. In order to improve and finally climb up.

Luckily, many of the ship owners are wearing the green hats now, thinking green thoughts. They are ready for the climb. This demand is growing. It has sincerely taken over at the small passenger ships segment already and more ship types are facing the same demand. This is great!

In Europe, ES-TRIN 2019 and NRMM legislations are setting high hopes for inland waterways transportation to turn green with one instant leap. This possibility is a great beginning, but we also need to focus on the vessel concepts, infra development and boost-activation of water transport connections. We should ask our governments to put focus arranging electricity available by the river. Just more possibilities to plug-in is needed.

Do not take me wrong: any improvement, even small, is welcome. Just that current speed of improving is not enough.

What on earth we can do at the sea?

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Heikki Bergman

Heikki Bergman

I am expert on supporting conceptual decisions and pre-design in electrical ship concepts and modernizations. I have worked in power electronics since 1994, completely in marine since 1998. I have long and practical international experience.

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