Development of a sustainability impact method for Pacific inter-island maritime transport

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Maritime transport represents one of the main means of product delivery and passenger transportation across the world but its impact on climate change has positioned it among the world's biggest CO2 pollutants. One of the most impacted regions in the world by maritime transport emissions is the South Pacific Region. Studies show that if climate change is not mitigated, then the increase in temperatures could lead to droughts, changes in intensity, frequency and duration of cyclone seasons, sea rise and effects on ecosystems, food security, and economy in the region. Thus, the goal within this century is to keep the global mean temperature to 1.5°C.
With this idea in mind, the regional goal of the Pacific nations was set for a decrease in carbon dioxide emissions from shipping by 40% until 2030 and complete decarbonization until 2050. A possible solution proposed by the local organizations such as USP and MCST is the implementation of Wind assisted ship propulsion (WASP) on existing and new built vessels. In that regard, a collaboration was initiated between TU Delft and the University of South Pacific to assist by developing a methodology and a practical tool that can assess the technical performance and environmental, economic, and societal impact of WASPs. For this reason, this thesis investigates the applicability of WASPs in the South Pacific Maritime Transport using a proven vessel, Sailing Vessel Kwai, as the main case study.
The method employed for the overall research was an adaptation of the Life Cycle Impact Assessment (LCIA). The LCIA encompasses the environmental impact from cradle to scrap of a certain product. The present study considered only the operational cycle of the vessel's hybrid propulsion and its impact on the triple-bottom-line items. Aspects such as the impact of manufacturing, scraping, painting or machinery waste have not been included and need further research to conclude the LCIA. The conceptualized methodology represented the theoretical foundation for the development of a practical Excel tool that assesses the technical performance of the hybrid propulsion, fuel and emissions output, norms compliance and ship finances. The novelty of the research stands in the assessment of SV Kwai from an academic perspective. Empirical methods and frameworks were used for the impact on society, ship finances and the environment. The results of the case study are promising for the future of shipping in the South Pacific region. Even though SV Kwai has the hull of a 71 years old fishing vessel and is retrofitted with sails and an oversized engine, it still accomplishes tremendous fuel reduction of around 37% per voyage. The calculations have shown that a similar trend line is encountered for the CO2 and SOx emissions. From an environmental and policy-making perspective, SV Kwai fits within the international emissions EEDI chart, CII chart mile and in the CATCH index. EEDI and CII parameters were calculated with regard to reference line formulas provided by the IMO for general cargo vessels.
Overall, the present research is an indication of an early-stage WASP design performance and its impact on the local South Pacific region. Several conclusions have been drawn with regard to the future of WASP technology in the region and its applicability.