“Movement to decarbonise the maritime sector must be started now to avoid locking in long-term future emissions” is the message that features in a new white paper on the future of the shipping industry published by Ricardo
— a global engineering and environmental consultancy that specialises in the transport, energy and ‘scarce resources’ sectors.
Graeme MacLean, Ricardo’s principal consultant on this project, said: “There are significant challenges ahead for the sector as it moves towards ‘net zero’, but we believe that the maritime sector can succeed in achieving this goal. However there are some big decisions to be made and the business owners and investors need support to take the necessary steps now.
“Vessels have long lifetimes, so it is vital that decarbonisation is built into vessel and infrastructure procurement, otherwise it could be decades before the sector starts to make serious inroads into its emissions.
“The barriers and uncertainties are far-reaching. Future fleets may use one of a number of low-carbon or zero-carbon energy vectors, each of which could have an effect on the way the vessel operates. Additionally, ports need to understand which future fuels they will need to bunker, then to prepare the bunkering barges, fuel storage and fuel suppliers — and have the knowledge to do so safely.”
The white paper states that while it may feel like there is little incentive to invest in true decarbonisation, increasing pressure is coming from governments and other legislators, investors decarbonising their portfolios, and customers needing to decarbonise their supply chain.
Mr MacLean added: “The maritime sector is under no illusions that it will have to decarbonise, but it is far from straightforward and unlikely to be cheap. Rather than a sudden switchover, forward-thinking operators, owners, ports and fuel suppliers will collaborate to make use of financial incentives to co-develop cost-effective routes which demonstrate the possibilities.
“Ricardo has specialists in the different areas, whether that is the technology, the economics or even the politics to help make this happen. We hope by publishing this white paper, we can demonstrate to key players that the solutions are out there, and we can help find them.”