Germany’s Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union (NABU) announced the result of a scrubber study conducted by the Dutch research institute CE DELFT. The short conclusion: “(…) currently scrubbers cannot be considered a solution, neither in ecological nor economical terms.” Says the CEO of NABU Leif Miller.

At the time of writing 80 scrubbers were in operation out of a global fleet of 55.000 vessels, with 300 scrubbers on order.     

The issue is the new sulfur limit that has been active since 1st Jan. 2015, permitting vessels in Emission Control Areas (ECAs) to emit not more than 0,1%. The study highlights that while the scrubber technology may limit the sulfur content, the technology allows vessels to continue using Heavy Fuel Oil (HFO) in which other substances are equally harmful such as “polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), heavy metals such as mercury, lead, and arsenic, as well as nitrates, and sulfur are left to accumulate in the Marine environment.  

The issue is that “this may lead to an infringement of critical loads over time and in particular in areas of dense ship traffic.”
As such the NABU sees less of a business case with regards to scrubbers, especially with the current price level.

Read the full article at shipandbunker or go to the study.

Not surprisingly players who have already invested millions in the technology only to have their decisions waivered are barking up. Amongst others DFDS, who points out the distinction between closed and open loop scrubbers. Read DFDS’s full response to the study.