New motion in ballast water

Sustainability assured 2016

In 2016, the IMO passed far-reaching legislation on ballast water, which will have powerful business implications for Wärtsilä’s customers.

According to the United Nations, the three greatest risks to the world’s ecology are global warming, the extinction of endangered species, and threats posed to local ecosystems around the globe. The last of these is the focus of Wärtsilä’s ballast-water treatment solutions, which are designed to help customers comply with the latest regulations in this area.

In September 2016, the IMO Ballast Water Management Convention was ratified. Under its terms, which will enter into force worldwide in September 2017, ships will be required to manage their ballast water to deal with aquatic organisms and pathogens within it.

The convention will require all vessels in international trade to comply with certain standards, in line with ship-specific management plans. For most ships, this necessitates the installation of a ballast water treatment system. While there are more than 60 competing systems on the market today, to date Wärtsilä is the only marine solution provider offering ballast water management systems with OEM lifecycle support globally.

“We knew that no one single system or technology could satisfy the need of all the ships in the world,” explains Juha Kytölä, Vice President of Environmental Solutions. “For this reason, we have actually developed two product ranges based on different technologies in order to satisfy the various requirements of ship owners. This enables us to develop our own potential in this business.”


"From September 2017, ships will be required to manage their ballast water to deal with aquatic organisms and pathogens within it."

A fresh imperative

Now more than ever, ballast water solutions represent a burgeoning market. Regulations currently demand that all vessels undertake dry-docking every five years to be inspected and for any necessary repairs to be made. The convention now stipulates that any vessel dry-docking after September 8th, 2017, will have to install a ballast water treatment system as part of the process. With around 29,000 ships now at sea without any such system, the supply opportunity is clearly sizeable. Wärtsilä’s global reach is a significant advantage in this respect, as ship owners can make use of it to secure identical services – adhering to the same high standards – anywhere in the world.

Wärtsilä also differentiates itself here thanks to the breadth of its offering. “Many of our competitors only have the system itself,” says Kytölä, “while another agent is required to execute the design for the ship, and another the installation. We have the possibility to do the full job, starting from the first discussions all the way through to completion, or any combination of services in between.”

"Now more than ever, ballast water solutions represent a burgeoning market."

Further developments

Ballast water was not the only environmental topic for which marine legislation was ratified in 2016. In the same meeting in September 2016 (the 70th session of the Marine Environment Protection Committee, or MEPC), the IMO also ruled upon several other matters with extensive consequences for the marine industries.

Widely viewed as a response to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)’s initiative to reduce aviation emissions, the meeting agreed on a roadmap towards 2018 as a milestone for defining its own climate strategy, and for the stipulation of near-, mid- and long-term measures.  With regulations relating to more comprehensive data collection also coming into force, this strategy may then be revised in 2023, based upon findings from the data gathered in the interim.

The decision was also made to establish northern Europe – namely the Baltic Sea, the English Channel, and the North Sea – as nitrogen emission control areas (NECA). Ships built after the 1st of January, 2021 and operating in northern European waters must thereafter comply with the same nitrogen regulations already effective around the USA and elsewhere.

Finally, the meeting decided that the sulphur content in marine fuel must be reduced globally. At the close of 2020, the maximum amount allowed will be 0.5 per cent (down from 3.5). Alternatively, ships may, of course, use the same fuel as before and clean the exhaust gases with the help of scrubbers. In so doing they must ensure that their SOX emissions are no higher than they would be when burning LNG or expensive low-sulphur fuels.

With its host of environmental solutions, Wärtsilä is well placed to help its customers with each of these developments. Learn more about the environmental excellence that Wärtsilä strives to achieve for its customers via the company’s web site.




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