Research reveals link between energy-efficient ships and decrease in underwater noise pollution

Ship propeller file photo
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A new study from the University of Southampton commissioned by the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) highlights the relationship between energy efficiency and underwater noise reduction (URN) in the maritime industry. The study demonstrates the significant impact of energy efficiency strategies on reducing URN, with measures such as reducing ship speed and using wind-assisted propulsion systems showing promising potential for noise reduction. With impending stricter Carbon Intensity Indicator (CII) requirements and the aging shipping fleet, the study predicts a growing trend towards introducing energy efficiency measures to align with the revised International Maritime Organization (IMO) Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Strategy targets.

The study emphasizes that compliance with IMO GHG regulations could lead to a reduction in the URN of merchant vessels, and that the global URN reduction targets proposed by the Okeanos Foundation serve as key goals to strive for. By exploiting the synergies between energy efficiency and URN, the study suggests that a reduction in shipping’s contribution to ambient noise by 3 dB within a decade is an achievable goal, primarily through speed reduction. With the incorporation of additional efficiency measures, such as air lubrication or wind-assisted propulsion, achieving the ambitious goal of 10 dB within 30 years is within reach, according to the study.

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