Of the various compliance solutions available on the market, exhaust gas cleaning systems (EGCS), also known as scrubbers, are ranked as a popular choice for both existing and new build vessels. The key factors behind their popularity include financial benefit, simplicity with regard to installation and a relatively short return on investment.
On the other hand, there are cases where installing scrubbers is not a viable solution, such as lower fuel consumption ships that don’t enjoy the rate of savings as ships operated with EGCS and therefore have a longer payback. In a few cases, space and other technical factors can play a part in the decision not to scrub.
According to the latest estimates from the Exhaust Gas Cleaning System Association (EGCSA), there will be at least 4,000 ships fitted with scrubbers in 2020.
EGCSA offers technical information and advice to ship-owners, and participates in forums where regulations are developed, impact assessments are actioned and evaluated. It is working with the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) to form a group of designers and users to identify and improve quality and performance of EGCS.
The scrubber installations have gravitated towards the larger vessels and vessels with high installed power where the economics of the investment versus the lower fuel cost are projected to give a high rate of return.
The majority of the installations use sea water as the process fluid and discharge the treated and continuously monitored water overboard, in other words so-called open loop EGCS.
However, with the need to decarbonize the shipping industry and the development of alternative marine fuels, including zero-emission fuels, scrubbers have not been identified as a long-term solution, with some market analysts predicting their life-span not to exceed ten years.
The association begs to differ, saying that the demand for scrubbers would last for at least the next 30 years.