Bridging the gap: designing solutions to meet demand after 2030

Volkmar Galke, WinGD’s Global Director of Sales. (Image: WinGD)Volkmar Galke, WinGD’s Global Director of Sales. (Image: WinGD)

While LNG remains the best near-term choice as a transition fuel, work to meet market demand after 2030 is accelerating, Volkmar Galke, WinGD’s Global Director of Sales, tells The Motorship.

The company has recently announced a significant evolution in its dual-fuel engine programme, and will be introducing an exhaust gas recycling solution (iCER) later this year. [We feature an interview with Dominik Schneiter on the iCER elsewhere in this issue].

The introduction of iCER into WinGD’s dual-fuel portfolio would have a transformational effect. “As the first stage in our X-DF2.0 concept, it will enable further efficiency and environmental footprint improvement,” Galke said.

The development has provoked a strong response, attracting interest from shipyards as well as existing customers. For ship owners who want to amend newbuilding engine room designs to allow for subsequent retrofit of the iCER, WinGD can already offer flow data, dimensions and product data on a case by case basis to customers. “We have already had some ship owners request iCER-ready designs,” Galke noted.

Meanwhile, WinGD planned to launch an iCER retrofit solution within the next 12 months for existing X-DF engines to ensure existing customers could benefit from the improved fuel consumption and reduced methane slip offered by the solution.

Zero carbon is coming

Speaking shortly before a European Parliament committee voted to submit plans for the extension of the Emissions Trading Scheme to a vote in September, Galke touched on the subject of environmental regulations briefly. Future environmental regulation remains a key subject for ship owners to factor into investment decisions. “Zero carbon is coming,” Galke warned.

But Galke had a reassuring message for owners concerned about the likely fuel mix propelling the fleet after 2030. “We don’t know what the fuel mix will be, but WinGD will have solutions ready for whatever fuel or fuels the market decides upon,” Galke said, adding he could see the X engine platform continuing to meet demand for liquid fuels after 2030.

This approach was informing the company’s crowded research and development agenda. “We are looking at digitalisation and X-fuels and are also actively carrying out research into a number of liquid alternative fuels.” Concrete examples of such research projects include volatile organic compounds, biofuels and LBG. Even after WinGD launches its second Winterthur-based test engine (a single-cylinder version), accompanied by two additional full-scale test engines in China, research objectives will have to remain focused.

Galke also touched on the company’s work on system hybridisation and for energy efficiency optimisation. Another area of interest are developments for increasing the level of autonomy of engine rooms equipped with WinGD products. Leaving aside their potential applicability for autonomous vessel research, this would ease the ship’s operations both technically and commercially. “We have remote engine monitoring and advisory solutions with WiDE along with state-of-the-art training for the crew,” Galke said simply.

LNG market

Turning back to the present, Galke noted WinGD retained a near 60% market share of dual-fuel engine orders in 2019. The engine designer has over 60 X-DF engines in service clocking over 550,000 operating hours. “We have booked over 320 orders as of today,” Galke added.

With the delivery and successful type approval test of the 12X92DF order represented a technical milestone, the extension of the company’s dual-fuel portfolio to the full range of engine sizes in 2019 was a commercial one. The company has now secured orders from five vessel segments for its dual-fuel engines.

“We secured our first orders for our X82DF-1.0 engine for VLCCs, which was a significant step for us,” Galke said. Elsewhere in the tanker market, the pace of orders for dual-fuel engines from the Aframax segment has continued. Interest in shuttle tankers using LNG and volatile organic compounds (VOC) as fuel is also increasing, propelled by potential LNG consumption reductions of by up to 20%.

Other segments were also looking closely at LNG as a fuel, although fuel prices remained a factor. “One of the barriers to increased penetration in new markets is the slow development of LNG bunker price transparency,” Galke said.

Taking a wider perspective, Galke noted that while the number of vessel types using LNG as a fuel was growing, and bunker supply was continuing to expand, the wider market cooled towards the end of 2019, with a number of orders for LNG carriers postponed.

WinGD has plans to introduce further stages of their X-DF2.0 concept which will include variable compression ratio technology.

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