The number of ships in operation or on order with scrubbers fitted has nearly doubled over the past six months to 3,229, according to DNV GL, the Norwegian accredited registrar and classification society.
Of the 3,229 ships, 2,372 have been retrofitted with scrubbers while 857 ships are newbuilds, according to DNV GL data.
Back in October, about 1,700 scrubbers were in operation or on order, DNV GL said at the time.
Scrubbers — exhaust gas cleaning systems — have seen increasing uptake as the shipping industry prepares for the International Maritime Organization’s new sulfur cap in 2020, which requires that vessels sailing on the high seas burn fuel with a sulfur content of no more than 0.5%, down from the current level of 3.5%, unless they are fitted with a scrubber.
Falling futures values for high sulfur fuel oil have incentivized scrubber uptake.
Some 80% of scrubbers fitted or to be fitted to ships are open-loop scrubbers while 17% were hybrid scrubbers enabling ships to operate in both open and closed loop. Open-loop scrubbers send water used to clean emissions back into the sea while closed-loop scrubbers retain the emissions for disposal at port.
Bulk carriers made up the largest share of scrubber-fitted vessels, accounting for 35% of total scrubbers, with oil product and crude oil tankers accounting for 27%.
Cruise ships, Ro-Ro cargo ships, gas tankers, RoPax, general cargo ships, car carriers and car/passenger ferries account for the remainder of scrubber-fitted vessels.
The DNV GL data also shows a push towards LNG-fueled ships, with a total of 300 ships in operation and on order capable of using LNG as a bunkering fuel.