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Emission Standards

China: Marine Engines

Regulatory Background

China’s legislation to reduce pollutant emissions from marine engines includes several regulatory initiatives:

  • China I/II Standards— Emission standards for Category I and Category II marine engines, adopted in 2016 [3487]
  • IMO Annex VI Standards—China has ratified MARPOL Annex VI so IMO NOx standards apply to Chinese flagged oceangoing vessels and foreign flagged vessels operating within Chinese waters
  • Domestic Emission Control Areas—Low sulfur fuel requirements for ocean-going vessels operating and berthing within three coastal areas, adopted in 2015 [3488]

China I/II Emission Standards

The China I/II standards are based on US marine standards, with China I corresponding to the US Tier 2. The China I/II regulations were adopted in 2016 [3487] (replacing an earlier standard issued in 2008) and become effective in 2018 (China I) and 2021 (China II).

The standards apply to new Category 1 and Category 2 marine engines on vessels registered in China that navigate or operate in Chinese territorial waters. The regulation is applicable to both propulsion and auxiliary engines used by river boats, coastal boats, river-sea through ships, channel ships (ferries), and fishing boats. The standards also specify emission requirements for vessels and marine engines after overhaul.

China I/II standards do not apply to ocean going vessels, to ships used only in emergency situations, or to small marine engines below 37 kW (which must comply with emission standards for mobile nonroad engines).

The engine categories are based on US designations and are defined as follows:

  • Category 1 marine engines—Rated net power ≥ 37 kW and per-cylinder displacement of less than 5 L.
  • Category 2 marine engines—Per-cylinder displacement ≥ 5 L and less than 30 L.

China I/II standards are summarized in the following tables. The effective dates refer to new type approvals. The corresponding market placement dates are one year later.

Table 1. China I marine engine emission standards
Cat.Displ. (SV)Power (P)COHC+NOxCH41PMDate
 dm3 per cylinderkWg/kWhg/kWhg/kWhg/kWh 
1 SV < 0.9P ≥ 375.07.51.50.402018.7
0.9 ≤ SV < 1.25.07.21.50.30
1.2 ≤ SV < 55.07.21.50.20
2 5.0 ≤ SV < 155.07.81.50.272018.7
15 ≤ SV < 20P < 33005.08.71.60.50
P ≥ 33005.09.81.80.50
20 ≤ SV < 255.09.81.80.50
25 ≤ SV < 305.011.02.00.50
1 Applicable to natural gas (including dual fuel) engines only.
Table 2. China II marine engine emission standards
Cat.Displ. (SV)Power (P)COHC+NOxCH41PMDate
 dm3 per cylinderkWg/kWhg/kWhg/kWhg/kWh 
1 SV < 0.9P ≥ 375.05.81.00.32021.07
0.9 ≤ SV < 1.25.05.81.00.14
1.2 ≤ SV < 55.05.81.00.12
2 5 ≤ SV < 15P < 20005.06.21.20.142021.07
2000 ≤ P < 37005.07.81.50.14
P ≥ 37005.07.81.50.27
15 ≤ SV < 20P < 20005.07.01.50.34
2000 ≤ P < 33005.08.71.60.50
P ≥ 33005.09.81.80.50
20 ≤ SV < 25P < 20005.09.81.80.27
P ≥ 20005.09.81.80.50
25 ≤ SV < 30P < 20005.011.02.00.27
P ≥ 20005.011.02.00.50
1 Applicable to natural gas (including dual fuel) engines only.

IMO NOx Standards

Chinese flagged oceangoing vessels and foreign flagged vessels are subject to the provisions of Regulation 13 of MARPOL Annex VI.

Starting September 1, 2018, Chinese-flagged ocean going ships and imported ships applying for domestic trade will be required to comply with the Annex VI Tier II NOx emission limits [3950]. This measure will be in force for five years and be subject to inspection. While Regulation 13 of Annex VI is not applicable to these vessels, these requirements are being adopted to manage the import of used vessels for service into Chinese waters.

Domestic Emission Control Areas

Three areas along the China’s coastline—the Pearl River Delta, the Yangtze River Delta and the Bohai Rim waters—have been designated as domestic emission control areas (DECA) for SOx emissions [3488]. The program is administered by the China Maritime Safety Administration. In 2018, a letter was issued stating that the DECA would extend along the entire Chinese coast starting in 2019 [3951]. While the program structure reflects that of the IMO ECAs, China’s domestic ECA designations and rules are independent from the international IMO regulations.

The limit for sulfur content of fuel oils used onboard ships operating within the DECAs is to be lowered to 0.5% (m/m). The 0.5% sulfur limit was phased-in over the period from 2016 to 2019. The DECA regulation is applicable to ships voyaging, berthing and operating within the three emission control areas, excluding military, sport and fishery ships.

In addition to the DECA designations, the following 11 port areas within the DECAs have been designated as core port areas:

  1. Pearl River Delta: Shenzhen, Guangzhou and Zhuhai
  2. Yangtze River Delta: Shanghai, Ningbo-Zhoushan, Suzhou and Nantong
  3. Bohai Rim: Tianjin, Qinhuangdao, Tangshan and Huanghua

The DECA requirements are phased-in over the following schedule:

  • From 1 January 2016, ports in the emission control areas can require ships at berth to use fuel oils with sulfur content ≤ 0.5%.
  • From 1 January 2017, ships berthing at core port areas within the DECAs are required to use fuel oils with sulfur content ≤ 0.5%, except for the first hour after arrival and the last hour prior to departure.
  • From 1 January 2018, ships berthing at any ports within the DECAs are required to use fuel oils with sulfur content ≤ 0.5%, except for the first hour after arrival and the last hour prior to departure.
  • From 1 January 2019, ships entering the DECAs are required to use fuel oil with sulfur content ≤ 0.5%.

In lieu of low sulfur fuels, vessel operators can choose alternative compliance measures that are at least as effective in emission reduction, such as the use of shore power, clean energy or scrubbers for exhaust gas treatment.

The geographical extent of the DECAs is shown in the following figures. The Pearl and Yangtze river areas extend about 12 nautical miles from the coastline. Waters under the jurisdiction of Hong Kong and Macau are excluded from the Pearl river DECA.

Pearl River Delta emission control area
Yangtze River Delta emission control area
Bohai Rim emission control area

A review of the 2016 DECA regulation completed in 2018 concluded that effective January 1, 2019, the emission control area would extend about 12 nautical miles along the entire coastline of the country and ships would be required to use 0.5% (m/m) sulfur fuel for navigation and berthing [3951]. Alternative compliance methods such as the use of shore power, clean energy or scrubbers for exhaust gas treatment remain as options. Effective January 1, 2020, berthing at all ports and navigation in the waters of the island province of Hainan would require 0.1% (m/m) sulfur fuel. It also imposes stricter NOx limits on new and in-use vessels and has VOC control requirements. The review also proposes a 0.1% (m/m) sulfur requirement starting January 1, 2020 for the national DECA and further NOx and VOC controls.