Sustainable development

Meriaura Group operates in a number of renewable energy and energy efficiency-related projects both on land and offshore. We have also set targets to increase the use of renewable energy and decrease carbon dioxide emissions in our own actions. Developing and implementing of new sustainable forms of energy are one of our ambitions. We are on the right way, but much remains to be done.

Pioneer in biofuels at sea

Throughout its history, Meriaura Group has sought to find alternatives to fossil fules for developing shipping more sustainable. We did our first bio-oil experiment already in 1992 with the tugboat ‘Aura’.

We have verified the usability of 100% biofuel made from recycled raw materials in shipping through long-term tests and with regular use in our own fleet. The work continues with the development of fuel certification and quality standardization.

The bio-oil we use is manufactured by VG EcoFuel Ltd. (a member of Meriaura Group) from recycled oils and by-products of the food industry. Therefore the oil production does not compete against land for agriculture. Waste-based bio-oil is therefore ethically sustainable, and its use reduces ship’s CO2 emissions by up to 96% compared to the traditional fossil fuel option. When running on bio-oil, nitrogen emissions are also close to zero and there are no methane emissions like on LNG production and combustion. Waste-based bio-oil is the most sustainable fuel solution currently available in maritime transport.

Creating a zero waste fleet

In summer 2019 we started a project for minimizing the environmental footprint of our fleet. The goal of our project is to make the VG-Shipping fleet the least waste produing fleet by the end of 2020. Our broader goal is to make this a standard for the whole industry and go far beyond the minimum requirements set by MARPOL.

Our Waste Reduction Project “MERI” comprises 4 sub-areas:

  1. Minimizing of waste at source
  2. Enhancing Onboard Process & operation to reduce waste
  3. Recycling of waste materials is amplified
  4. Improving handling of residual waste products

In the first phase of the project, we collect ideas from our ships for practical implementation of the above-mentioned issues. We have instructed our ships that after 1st of July 2019, all grey and black waters must be left in the ports and discharges into the sea are not allowed, not even at a distance of 12 nautical miles from ashore, that is allowed by the present legislation.

In the second phase of our project, we strive to create standards for all our fleet’s practices aimed at reducing consumption, improving recycling and reuse of materials, minimizing food waste, and guiding the on-board meals to a more environmentally and climate-friendly direction, that also is healthier.

The ability of ports to handle and receive different waste fractions is in key position in minimizing the  environmental strain of ships. We hope that the ports in the Baltic Sea, where facilities to receive waste and recycled materials are still in need of improvement, are willing to take up the challenge.

We believe that the opportunity to personally influence on the state of the Baltic Sea will motivate all of us. Let’s make the change together!

CO2 emissions followed more carefully

We want to track our emissions, and in 2018 we introduced CO2- emissions reports for our customers. With Nautic Ai – Fleetrange application we calculate emissions for each voyage performed. We report transport emissions per unit shipped, and compare sea transport with different modes of transport. In addition to CO2 emissions, greenhouse gases should be monitored as a whole, and the comparison should take into account, for example, methane emissions caused by LNG, that from a climate perspective are many times worse than CO2.

CO2 reports will be part of our standardized quality management. Our customers can further use the reports for their own purposes. We believe that eco- efficiency and customer satisfaction are mutually supportive goals.

The development work will not stop here, but in the future Meriaura will strive for more and more comprehensive reporting. In 2021 we have begun to track the tonne-mile performance of our entire fleet, and set a goal to reverse the trend downward.

 

Developing more environment friendly ships

Throughout its history, Meriaura Group has had a strong will to develop shipping in a more environmentally friendly direction. During the first bio-oil experiment in 1992, we also started using electricity in port with the tugboat’s own wind and solar energy production.

In the beginning of 21st century, our company had grown to be sufficiently solvent to begin designing its first new building. In 2008, the innovative deck cargo ship “Aura” was completed. The concept has been copied around the world. In 2012, we built the deck cargo ship “Meri”, which was an advanced version of the ‘Aura’, and the world’s first cargo ship designed to use bio-oil. Learning from the experiences with ‘Meri’, we designed the EcoCoaster dry cargo vessels Eeva VG and Mirva VG, which were delivered in 2016. They are very energy-efficient new-generation cargo vessels, with almost half fuel consumption compared to similar size standard vessels. They can use waste-based bio-oil as power source. More environmentally friendly transport solutions have not entered the maritime transport market since our EcoCoasters.

Now Meriaura Group is preparing a new type of transportation concept that aims for 100% carbon and GHG neutrality. Our concept is based on a hybrid propulsion that combines sustainably produced bio-oil and battery technology. Our goal is to bring to market in 2024 the first transportation concept based on renewable energy since the era of large sailing ships.

Involved in building a sustainable society

We want to be in key position in developing sustainable energy. Open deck and heavy cargo carriers Meri and Aura have participated in demanding offshore wind farm and cable installation projects in the Baltic Sea, North Sea and UK.  Aura worked 3 years at southern Baltic Sea as offshore wind farm cable laying vessel.

We are major transporter of recycled materials on the Baltic Sea. We want to be involved in building a sustainable society based on circular economy and clean energy.

Energy efficiency in all actions

In all activities we aim at the most energy-efficient solutions. In the shipping business, the most effective energy-saving method is to reduce fuel consumption, and this is carried out in many different ways, eg. precise and accurate route optimization, fuel consumption monitoring and training of personnel.

In 2017 we introduced Nautic Ai -Fleetrange, a new cloud and IoT-techology based program for connecting and visualizing our fleet in real-time. Fleetrange combines i.e. geographic information of our ships with digitalized route planning, which improves chartering and oper- ating efficiency of our fleet.

We are operating in the highly dynamic Baltic Spot- market where voyages are short and changes frequent. With Nautic Ai – Fleetrange we optimize voyage planning, minimize ballast voyages and improve our energy efficiency. Meriaura participated in the development of Fleetrange as a pilot project.

Water protection with gypsum application

Meriaura has been selected as the service provider for transport, distribution and application of gypsum for an environmental project, where gypsum is applied to fields in order to reduce the phosphorus load to the Baltic Sea generated by agriculture.

The customer of this 5-year agreement is the Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment. During this period, the goal is to treat 50,000 to 85,000 hectares of arable land, which means 200,000 to 340,000 tons of gypsum. The project started in 2020 and is part of the Ministry of the Environment’s Water Protection Improvement Program.

Gypsum treatment presents an important opportunity when it comes to the protection of the Baltic Sea. The impact of gypsum on soil’s ability to absorb phosphorus and to restrict phosphorus leaching into water bodies has been studied in Finland for about ten years. It reduces the runoff of solids and phosphorus into the Baltic Sea and improves the water quality in the sea.

As a result of climate change, increased rainfall and snow-free winters are increasing nutrient run-off from land, worsening eutrophication that is the most serious environmental problem in the Baltic Sea. Phosphorus leaching is strongest in the fields that are sensitive to erosion or have abundant phosphorus reserves. The fields of southwestern Finland are one of the significant sources of pollution listed by the Baltic Sea Protection Commission HELCOM. With the help of gypsum, the phosphorus leaching of the field can be cut quickly, as the effect of gypsum begins immediately after it dissolves in the ground. The method is also cost-effective.

The gypsum application is seen as a project of social and environmental responsibility. With our strict pricing, the project can cover a larger area of arable land, which in practice means that the same money will have a greater impact on water protection.

Investments in circular economy and clean tech

Meriaura Group has invested in building a bioenergy solution based on closed circulation where waste, waste energy, nutrients and CO2 are used and recycled back to the energy and food production. The unique ecosystem located in Uusikaupunki includes a land based, RAS technology aquaculture plant, greenhouse, bio gas plant and bio oil production plant. Our aim is to make the energy and food chain as carbon neutral as possible.

Waste-based bio-oils are a sustainable alternative to virgin bio-oils, because the oil production does not compete with food production, and raw materials come close. For our bio fuel production we collect e.g. used cooking oils from restaurants all over Finland.

Atmosmare -foundation

Atmosmare Foundation is an organisation which develops and tests methods and techniques to minimise the negative effects of climate change.

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