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IACS – Council Meeting C85

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Nick Brown

IACS Council Launches New ‘Safe Decarbonisation Panel’ To Support The Implementation Of New Fuels And Technologies

Meeting in London this week the IACS Council, Chaired by Mr. Nick Brown, CEO of Lloyds Register, held its 85th session (C85).  IACS Council recognised the challenge of ensuring that ambitious targets with expedited timescales for decarbonisation are delivered safely and with the necessary technical underpinning to facilitate early investment by key stakeholders.

IACS panels represent the top tier of the Association’s issue-specific bodies, so establishing a Safe-Decarbonisation Panel (SDP) sends the clearest possible signal of IACS’ determination to support industry through this multi-faceted, multi-decadal challenge.  Giving decarbonisation the same focus as the traditional areas of Safety, Environment, Hull, Machinery, Survey & Cyber significantly enhances the association’s ability to address safe decarbonisation concerns and support the protection of human life, property and the marine environment.

To help deliver common technical requirements at speed, the SDP will immediately convene four project teams to work on leading decarbonisation fuels and technologies.  While IACS remains technologically agnostic, extensive discussions with industry – itself a key feature and objective of the SDP – indicate that initial efforts should be focused on Ammonia, Hydrogen, Carbon Capture & Storage and Batteries.  Additionally, the SDP will also evaluate current work streams at IMO on Methyl/ethyl Alcohols with a view to undertaking further work as appropriate.  Other alternative fuels and technologies will be considered by the SDP subsequently.

Recognising that efforts to decarbonize need to be collaborative to be successful, the SDP has also adopted a structured consultative approach so that all stakeholders – fuel manufacturers, technology providers, owners, builders and marine insurance – have multiple and multi-layered opportunities to engage with IACS at strategic, operational and technical levels.

Such close cooperation will help focus prioritization, maximise efficiency and remove duplication and allow for the resulting outputs to be properly targeted either in the form of IACS Resolutions or recommendations or submissions to IMO to support the development of detailed regulations.  Collectively, this work will help encourage industry to invest in new fuels/technologies by offering a degree of reassurance that standards are being harmonized and technologies are proven against these requirements.

Commenting on this development, IACS Chair Nick Brown said ‘IACS’ establishment of a Safe Decarbonisation Panel allows for an over-arching view on new initiatives, whether they be related to the propulsion of the vessels or to the changing nature of the cargoes ships will carry as a result of societal efforts to decarbonize, and so marks a step-change in embedding a safety-focus into this industry-wide effort.’

On other matters, C85 strongly endorsed the progress being made by the Independent Quality Assessment Review Body (IQARB) and committed to assisting that body develop into a respected entity that can be trusted by flag States, Industry and others to provide high-level oversight of the quality systems of Class Societies and Recognised Organisations. 

C85 also reviewed the suite of measures adopted by IACS to help the industry maintain business continuity in the face of the operational challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and noted the effectiveness of IACS’ COVID-19 Task Force in ensuring that ships were able to safely remain in service and in compliance with Class Rules and the requirements of the international Conventions.  C85 agreed, however, that the improving COVID situation now allowed for a phased withdrawal of the various exemptions noting that operational challenges still exist in certain areas.

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