With an increased focus on tackling climate change in recent years, is it possible for a world-class blue-water navy to be green?
The article was submitted to the UK Defence Journal by Joseph Hopwood of Exeter University. Joseph was recently awarded a scholarship by the UK Naval Engineering Science and Technology (UKNEST) a forum to represent the UK Naval Defence sector.
To reduce emissions in the Royal Navy, innovative solutions need to be found. These solutions will come from new and emerging technologies and improvements in through life environmental impact in shipyards, maintenance facilities and system and equipment suppliers. All of this must be done while maintaining the capabilities of a blue water Navy which can be deployed anywhere in the world on sustained operations to project power in the maritime environment.
Shipping makes a significant contribution to the emissions of nitrogen oxide (NOx), Carbon Dioxide (CO2) and Sulphur dioxide (SO2). These pollutants cause adverse effects on human health, including cardiovascular and respiratory illnesses. Other effects include acid rain which causes environmental damage to plants and aquatic animals. 
Solving the Issue
Marine organisms accumulate on the surface of the hull, increasing both the weight, drag and ultimately fuel consumption by up to 40%. Modern Anti-fouling paints use chemicals to inhibit the growth of organisms, but the chemicals damage the organisms and interrupt the food chain. A new solution developed at Kiel University uses the mechanical properties of poly-thiourethane to create a better contact to the hull prevent organisms growing on hulls by making it harder for them to latch on, this had found to be significantly better for the environment. 
Biofuels are derived from biological waste often from agriculture and reduce CO2 output by up to 90%. However, investment in facilities which support biofuels are needed and there are concerns over land use where bio-crops are grown rather than edible foods, adding to food insecurity. Newly developed biofuels such as solid (woody) biomass, through technologies such as pyrolysis a higher energy yield and can be made from recycled woods. 
Support facilities should consider improvements to their buildings, manufacturing process and procedures. Energy reduction improvements in buildings such as insulating buildings and automated lighting, along with reducing office space by encouraging flexi-working and changing to paperless offices are all small improvements. Using green electricity is also significantly lower than the impact of grey energy (green: 0.012 CO2 emission factor, grey: 0.526 CO2 emission factor).
Greater knowledge sharing on environmental matters such as energy efficiency audits by different companies could allow them to learn from each other. By investing a little time, effort, and having an open mind current shipyards, suppliers and navies can reduce the impact on the environment.