Decarbonising the maritime industry is not an easy task. But it has created an opportunity for the entire value chain to collaborate and empower each other with technologies and knowledge that can move us towards true zero.
As the shipping industry is up against growing environmental pressure from shippers, consumers, investors and regulators, our sector faces an acute need to make real progress towards decarbonisation.
Collectively, there is some progress already. We have proven technologies already on the market and a true desire from multiple stakeholders to drive maritime’s energy transition. But we need to step it up a gear, and fast.
The Zero Emissions Ship Technology Association (ZESTAs) event, ShipZERO 26.5, aims to set a course for the industry to reach true zero emissions by using these existing technologies and innovations, and combining perspectives and experiences from a wide range of industry stakeholders.
Technology is not the barrier
We can all agree that shipping needs to be greener, but we need to up the pace. By complementing and adding to the existing renewable toolset, Drift Energy is supporting this acceleration towards net zero with a new class of mobile renewable energy. As explained by CEO and Founder Ben Medland, Drift Energy harvests energy at sea and transports it globally. There are three stages to its solution: energy generation while sailing the ocean through wind power; energy storage with an onboard electrolysis plant to create green hydrogen and stored in Gigawatt class tanks; and energy distribution to any port with minimal infrastructure.
Another solution presented during the event was Blue Technology’s project on Ocean Eagle, which combines wind power, power generation and green hydrogen fuel cells to achieve true zero emissions on the 5,000 TEU vessel. CEO and Founder Brian Boserup explained how by the end of 2021, the company had completed a proof of concept study, and soon will be starting a three-year joint industry project to propel maritime towards its decarbonisation goals. Ocean Eagle presents a game-changing solution with onboard container crane systems to enable unloading without any port infrastructure, as well as being free from emissions. The company aims to have the solution ready to commence service by 2028.
“Everything we need does exist today,” commented Drift Energy’s Ben Medland. “It is evident that zero-emissions technologies are already available on the market – and so is the demand for them,” argues Jeremy Osbourne, CTO and founder at Boundary Layer Technologies.
Jeremy and his company are taking on new markets – including tourism, commuting, and air freight – by reducing 50% of costs with zero Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions. The disruptive ARGO vessels are heavy high speed, liquid hydrogen-powered container ships, which have the potential to replace the $100 billion air freight sector. During his presentation, he spoke about ELEKTRA, the world’s fastest and longest-range electric ferry. With $90 million in pre-order sales, this is a good example of the tangible ways in which progress towards zero-emissions shipping are already taking place.
We also heard from Hans te Siepe about H2 Circular Fuel’s hydrogen storage solution in non-flammable powder. The solution contains nine MWh per cubic metre – which Hans says is enough energy to power the average Dutch household for nine years – and can be stored for up to 10 years. “It has a density as a powder comparable to diesel and the logistics are very easy, because you can transport it in a normal container.”
Collaboration is the answer
Whilst presenting at ShipZERO26.5, Gürdoğar spoke of NAVTEK’s all-electric tugboat that features zero emissions, zero noise and can play a major role in making port operations more sustainable. The modular design of the ZEETUG can be custom-built from 5T Bollard Pull (BP) up to 80T BP, while lowering OPEX by around 85% due to easy recharging and smart energy management.
NAVTEK is also developing ZeePort – a zero-emissions electric port which will provide electric bunker lines and quick charging stations, all powered by renewable energy generation (such as solar and wind power). Not only does NAVTEK’s technology provide big savings to the industry, but it will greatly contribute to improving pollution in and around ports – for example reducing Particulate Matter emissions at ports because of its harmful impact on people – potentially causing lung cancer. For NAVTEK, this forum allowed the company to express its eagerness to collaborate with other innovators.
Another strong example of collaboration in the maritime sector today is NCE Maritime CleanTech, which focuses on establishing sustainable innovation projects and working together for new clean maritime solutions. CEO Hege Øklandjoined ShipZERO 26.5 to share insight into its key collaborative project TrAM, which brings together pioneers (including Wärtsilä, Fjellstrand and Servogear to name a few) who are dedicated to creating zero-emissions, high-speed passenger vessels as quickly as possible. She explored developments in a new fully electric, high-speed ferry that will operate between Stavanger and Hommersåk on the west coast of Norway. According to its research, it will reduce production costs by around 25% and engineering costs by around 70%.
Modularisation was a key theme raised by Hege, and it will be essential in decarbonising shipping moving forwards. As Roderick Schlick, Director at Friday & Co. Shipbrokers, said: “We cannot meet the targets without retrofit. To do this, you must use modularity.” This reinforces how retrofits will be greatly facilitated by modular design to help meet climate goals.
How can we continue to bring key stakeholders together?
One platform that offers a solution is The Ocean Opportunity Lab’s (TOOL) Spawn platform, which is a digital system-change enabler. Founder Birgit Liodden explained the challenge we face in setting a new course towards an emissions and waste-free industry. “Many people struggle to find the right resources at the right time and the right place.” TOOL provides the world’s first interactive map of entrepreneurs in the industry to connect innovators across the ocean and renewables sectors.
In this forum, we even saw competitors coming together as they recognise the importance of setting a better course and striving towards sustainability.
During the panel discussion, ZESTAs Secretary General Madadh MacLaine asked the question: “We’re in a crisis. How can we collaborate to get us out of this?” By approaching shipping’s decarbonisation problem from many industry perspectives, Madadh believes we can pinpoint specific solutions to the barriers faced by shipowners, technology providers, insurers, shipbrokers, finance and regulators.
The panel discussed whether assurance from policymakers is needed now. Chris Kidd, associate member at Ince, argued: “We don’t need to wait for the regulators. It can be done by contract and agreement. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”
Successful industry-led contracts, such as the Poseidon Principles and Sea Cargo Charter, can be strengthened and new legal clauses for climate protection by BIMCO and The Chancery Lane Project are examples of the shipping industry’s collaborative power.
During this debate, Alexandra Beverley at Bureau Veritas said: “We must focus on pioneers.” She argues that this is where we need collaboration, as “the first movers” to drive decarbonisation, and ZESTAs is an excellent platform for bringing together change-makers and influencers.
As a group, we agreed that getting behind pioneers, working together – even as competitors – and pooling resources, ships, technologies, and funding will transition port infrastructure, shipping lanes, and ship design. This will be key to scaling up and accelerating zero-emissions shipping. “Once we have that pooling – and we are almost at that stage – the cargo owners will come on board”, says Roderick at Friday & Co. Shipbrokers.
Maddah reiterated the point that we have found the solutions required for true zero, while also inspiring, challenging and educating each other. The next step is to build an action plan, and ZESTAs is now plotting the Zero Emissions Navigational Chart (ZE Nav Chart), which will be an overarching and holistic blueprint for the integration of solutions across the industry to support true zero through green corridors. This will be the key theme for the next ZESTAs event in November 2022, which coincides with the timing of COP27.
To share your input on accelerating zero-emissions shipping or to re-watch ShipZERO26.5, visit https://zestas.org/shipzero-26-5/