Moreover, global warming potential for one IMOCA yacht comes to 553 t of CO2 (the average annual GHG per capita in Germany is 8.1 t); mineral resource scarcity is 10.300 kg Cu equivalent (enough to produce 10 electric cars); 15 900 000 MJ of consumed energy is enough to power 1400 UK households for 12 months. After obtaining such results the sailing yacht does not look “green” anymore, does it?
One third of all carbon emissions could be avoided with the exclusive use of renewable energy © Amory Ross / 11th Hour Racing
British tender manufacturer Williams were part of the initial pilot partner development phase of MarineShift360. They ran LCA for their bestselling model Turbojet 325 and figured out that equivalent CO2 emission counts just 9.12 t per boat. Only 38% of this amount falls to production and end of life while the rest is usage, primarily petrol consumption. Most of the production emissions are related to mouldings (34%), pump assembly (22%), upholstery and tube (~10% each). Merely 7,2% is accounted for by the engine, just 2% more than Flexiteak decking.
“Williams also focused on doing comparative studies around drive trains,” says Ollie Taylor. “When they began to run the data on electric propulsion it turned out that it is not actually better in terms of carbon emissions. Because of the incredibly low utilization rate of leisure boats the electric drive train delivers marginally worse results for the environment than the current petrol version. Sometimes LCA would give unexpected results, but it is so important for the industry to know it before going into electrification of everything, some products suit electrification, but not all”.
Give me a star
MarineShift360 constantly updates dataset and models new processes for shipyards. They work with sail and rig makers, foil manufacturers and major boat builders including Beneteau Group and Princess Yachts. According to Taylor, there are about 200 users at the moment with 15 of them paying for subscription. The cost of the annual license is just €2,400. It is a tiny fraction of the fee that one would need to pay to invite an LCA consultant.
Finally MarineShift360 demonstrates the impact of any ship on the climate © MarineShift360
Also, LCA becomes one of the fundamental pieces of boat design courses. That is why MarineShift360 works very closely with the main maritime universities in the UK and Europe to act as a bridge between boat builders and students who would like to specialize in this field.
MarineShift360 is essentially a B2B tool without public access to LCA results unless the manufacturer is willing to publish them. It means that there is no informational resource for boat buyers to check or compare sustainability and footprint of various products yet. Would it appear in the future? Most probably yes. Now unexpected hotpoints force the manufacturers to keep their LCA results confidential to avoid competitors using this information against them. However, carbon footprint legislations are currently being developed and they will eventually pass to the boating industry. Then, if one wants to trade in the EU it will be obligatory to show that the products are sustainable.
The most convenient translation of LCA results for end users would be a robust star rating system where the number of stars shows sustainability level. However, according to Ollie Taylor there are lots of challenges with this approach because it is hardly possible to set a comparative baseline. Boat A may be more sustainable than boat B on paper, but in real life both may be incredibly damaging for the environment. Eventually, product category rules and carbon footprint legislations would permit customers to compare various products and MarineShift360 will certainly have this feature in a long-term run. Until then the rule of thumb would be asking the dealer or shipyard to show LCA results for your boat of choice and look into all impact categories and phases of life to gain a better understanding of which product truly delivers the lowest impact. Hopefully, this will force them to act.