RESEARCH AND INNOVATION KEY FOR WATER TRANSPORT COMPETITIVENESS

Jan 30, 2024 | Maritime business news

The European Waterborne Technology Platform (WTP) has welcomed a study highlighting the crucial role of research and innovation in the transition pathway for the EU mobility industrial ecosystem.

According to WTP, without waterborne transport Europe would not be able to function. According to a report published on 29 January on the transition pathway for the EU mobility industrial ecosystem, as more than 80% of the EU’s external trade and 40% of the EU’s internal trade are carried by sea and EU shipping controls 39.5% of the world fleet, waterborne transport has a strategic dimension.

Europe’s maritime technology sector comprises some 300 shipyards and more than 28,000 maritime equipment manufacturers and technology suppliers. The EU has all the necessary ingredients for a flourishing and competitive waterborne transport sector, supplying Europe with among others energy and food as well as raw materials for its industries.

The report highlights the crucial role of the transition to clean shipping as an opportunity for the EU waterborne industry to regain sustainable competitiveness. This will require significant investments in new technology development in a market where the EU already plays a frontrunner role in RD&I. It will also lead to new opportunities in terms of fleet renewal and retrofitting activities (i.e. energy efficiency improvements, conversion of ships to alternative fuels). The waterborne transport sector is involved in a complete transformation especially focusing on the production and integration of innovative zero-emission, air pollution control, noise reduction, sustainable, digital, and automated/autonomous technologies as the cornerstones of the industry’s global competitiveness.

Another important line of innovation in the sector is through the digitalisation of ships and ship systems. Further RD&I activities regarding the digital transformation are recommended in the report.

Eero Lehtovaara, Chair, WTP Board of Directors, said: “The items identified in the transition pathway for the EU mobility industrial ecosystem clearly identify the need and the significant added value of EU research and innovation activities and the deployment of these innovations. The digital and green transition will be the cornerstones of our activities for the coming period. These activities should benefit the entire waterborne transport ecosystem to increase competitiveness at the global level. Only this way the EU will be able to secure the fundamental role of a European waterborne transport sector.”

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