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Case 01.06.2023

Meyer Turku and Wärtsilä: Towards emission-free shipping

The winners of green shipping are those who boldly develop and adopt new innovations and technologies on their way towards zero emissions in maritime transport. Meyer Turku and Wärtsilä, the crown jewels of the Finnish maritime cluster, are paving the way with their leading and ecosystem projects and through RRF funding.
NEcOLEAP and Zero Emission Marine projects
  • Meyer Turku’s NEcOLEAP and Wärtsilä’s Zero Emission Marine ecosystem projects were launched with Business Finland’s funding in 2021.
  • The aim of the RRF-funded leading company projects is to support the expertise and international competitiveness of Finland’s entire maritime cluster, with the aim of emission-free shipping.
  • NEcCOLEAP aims to develop a climate-neutral cruise ship concept by 2025.
  • The ZEM ecosystem project aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from shipping by 60% by 2030.

Explore the financing of leading companies and ecosystems

The common goal of the ecosystem projects of Meyer Turku NEcOLEAP and Wärtsilä Zero Emission Marine, which were launched by Business Finland´s funding, is to strengthen the green transition expertise and competitiveness of the Finnish maritime cluster.

The maritime cluster is vital for the Finnish economy

The roots of shipbuilding in Finland date back to 1732, when shipbuilding began along the Aura River in Turku. Today, Turku Meyer shipyard is building the world's largest cruise ships. Wärtsilä, in turn, is one of the world's leading suppliers of innovative technology and life cycle solutions on the marine and energy markets. In Finland, the company is especially known for its marine engines and navigation equipment.

The Finnish maritime cluster comprises almost 2,000 companies, and its combined turnover is just under EUR 12 billion per year, covering approximately 10% of Finland's exports.

Functioning maritime transport in all weather conditions is vital for the remotely located Finland: 90 per cent of Finland's exports and 80 per cent of its imports are transported by sea.

Towards zero-emission shipping

Ninety per cent of global trade is transported by sea on ships, of which 99 per cent run with non-renewable heavy fuel oil. Global shipping causes significant carbon dioxide and fine particulate emissions in the world. According to the International Maritime Organization (IMO), global maritime carbon dioxide emissions accounted for slightly less than three per cent of all global carbon dioxide emissions in 2018.

With the growth in trade, maritime transport is also expected to grow strongly in the coming years. In addition, the number of 30 million cruise passengers per year is expected to double over the next 15 years.

The IMO aims to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from merchant shipping by at least 40% by 2030. The new regulation entered into force at the beginning of 2023.

Significant technological advances – and related research – are needed in addition to government regulation so that ships can be built sustainably and operated in an emission-free, economically profitable manner.

Particulate matter emissions from shipping have already been reduced by introducing tighter requirements for permitted fuel sulfur content. However, significant emission reductions will only be achieved by switching over to cleaner fuels, such as biodiesel and natural gas, and by ensuring their availability.

Carbon-neutral fuels include biofuels and gases, as well as methanol and methane containing recycled carbon, which are processed from green hydrogen. Zero-carbon fuels include green hydrogen and green ammonia processed from it.

The EU's climate package aims to increase the share of alternative fuels in maritime transport from 2025 onwards. In addition, container and passenger ships will be obliged to use shore-side electricity while in port as of 2030.

However, ships have a very long lifespan, so it will take time until new zero-emission ships will sail around the world's oceans.

Driver of green shipbuilding – NEcOLEAP

Meyer's NEcOLEAP leading company project brings together the representatives of companies, universities and research institutes to develop globally significant carbon-neutral and sustainable technology solutions for future cruise ships.

The NEcOLEAP project aims to develop a climate-neutral cruise ship concept by 2025. In addition, the goal is to make shipbuilding at the shipyard carbon-neutral by 2030.

"In the project application phase, we encouraged Meyer to look at things from a research perspective long into the future. If earlier investments were made in cranes, the leading company project invests in research and cooperation with operators in the maritime cluster," says Riku Mäkelä, who is responsible for Meyer's leading company project for Business Finland.

"The RRF funding granted by Business Finland is of great importance to Meyer. Through research and product development, we can also ensure the international competitiveness of our shipyard in the future. Research into various sustainable materials and the circular economy, for example, is extremely valuable to us, whether it is about the ship's steel structures, recyclable interior elements or the comfort of passengers," says Tapani Pulli, Deputy CEO of Meyer Turku.

"At Meyer, we have already been working systematically towards environmental friendliness for decades. The NEcOLEAP project is an excellent additional boost towards the green transition and the construction of climate-neutral ships," Pulli continues.

Driver of green shipping – Zero Emission Marine

The Zero Emission Marine (ZEM) ecosystem project led by Wärtsilä aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from shipping by 60% by 2030. In addition, the aim is to make all products of the ecosystem partners carbon-neutral or carbon-negative by 2050.

Among other things, the ZEM project focuses on new engine technologies, green fuels, energy efficiency calculations for operating ships and the optimization of fuel consumption and fuel efficiency.

"The ZEM ecosystem brings together the many operators in Finnish maritime transport to achieve carbon neutrality goals. Extensive multidisciplinary research and development work and seamless cooperation between different parties are needed in order to develop green transition innovations in maritime transport. No one can implement development measures of this scale alone," says Tero Ijäs, who oversees Wärtsilä's leading company project for Business Finland.

The parties to the ZEM ecosystem project include fuel manufacturers, energy producers, shipping companies, logistics suppliers, IT experts and technology partners, as well as research organizations.

"The development of different combustion engine concepts is the biggest part of our project. It involves exploring and testing new engine technologies, the use of different forms of energy, and energy storage. The transition from fossil fuels to carbon-free fuels in maritime transport will proceed in small steps. Here, we will undoubtedly see several different development paths, and not a single all-encompassing solution," says Kenneth Widell, who is responsible for Wärtsilä's ZEM project.

In addition, Widell emphasizes that the green transition of maritime transport may not always be hindered by technology itself, but by the availability, storage and also the costs of carbon-free fuels, for example. Switching over to fossil-free fuels requires a collective change of attitude from maritime transport as well as bold leadership from pioneering companies.

"Cooperation with Business Finland has been very positive, and we have been able to discuss our ideas openly and in a good spirit. We have the feeling that we are really in the same boat in promoting the green transition of maritime transport and supporting Finland's competitiveness," Widell continues.

Business Finland has granted EUR 20 million of EU Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) funding to both the projects. In addition, a total of EUR 50 million can be used to finance Co-Innovation joint projects created in the leading company project and the companies involved in them. 

Cooperation projects already launched

Wärtsilä has announced five ongoing cooperation projects. These include Silent Engine, which is coordinated by the University of Vaasa, CASEMATE coordinated by the University of Oulu, and MASCOT, a joint leading company project with Neste and coordinated by VTT.

Among other things, Silent Engine studies the noise level of new types of engines – among others, the use of hydrogen as a fuel may even increase the noise level of ships. CASEMATE investigates new zero-carbon fuel engines through system design.

The Green Engine CFD coordinated by VTT and HENNES coordinated by Aalto University were granted funding in the fall of 2022. All of the cooperation projects launched are part of the 'new technologies' theme of the ZEM project.

Of the cooperation projects launched in the Meyer ecosystem, CANELIS coordinated by Aalto University relates, among other things, to the use of lighter steel structures in the future. The application of high-strength and carbon-neutral steel in shipbuilding is currently under investigation. Lighter steel structures allow more space in the ship while lightness saves fuel.

The NECOM project, coordinated by Turku University of Applied Sciences, studies cruise experience and travel comfort on newer lighter ships. Fields of research include the cabin noise, engine noise, vibration and air conditioning.

The INDECS project, which is led by Åbo Akademi, studies the optimization of the ship's energy system, propulsion and air-conditioning system as a whole. All three cooperation projects launched by Meyer aim to significantly reduce ship energy consumption and emissions.

How could my company participate in leading projects?

Would your company be interested in becoming a partner in Meyer Turku's or Wärtsilä's leading company projects to develop the green shipping of the future?

Read more about the partnership model funding call

Photo: Wärtsilä