Apr 21, 2023 | Maritime business news, Marine environment & clean shipping news

The Global Maritime Forum, the Global Centre for Maritime Decarbonisation, and the Mærsk Mc Kinney Møller Center for Zero Carbon Shipping have conducted a survey of major shipping  companies, with analytical support by McKinsey & Company.

The survey was carried out in response to the industry’s need to reach a zero-emissions future, and in order to achieve this there needs to be a more ambitious regulatory framework with clear reduction targets and supporting policies to close the cost gap between green fuels and the fossil fuels that currently power the global fleet. The survey’s aim was to understand how shipping industry leaders are thinking about future fuels and what their  plans and projections are to adopt cleaner fuels and efficiency-boosting technologies.

Professor Lynn Loo, CEO Global Centre for Maritime Decarbonisation, said: “As the shipping industry is in a period of experimentation and exploration to understand the  implications of adopting different green fuels, surveys like this play a crucial role to inform the  industry and public, and support shipping’s transition to a zero-emissions future.”

The most striking result from the survey is a multi-fuel future: the need to prepare for fleets  operating on three or more fuel ‘families.’ The most common mix by 2050 represented by  45% of respondents is a fleet concurrently running vessels on fuel oil/biodiesel,  methane, methanol, and ammonia—a step-change in fuel diversity.

Bo Cerup-Simonsen, CEO Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller Center for Zero Carbon Shipping,  said: “The industry will need to think strategically about how to operate multi-fuel fleets and  green fuels must be introduced in a safe and cost-efficient manner to make them the preferred  alternative to current petroleum products.’’

Other findings from the survey suggest that internal combustion engines will remain the  preferred technology through 2050, and that the speed of shipping industry’s adoption of  alternative fuels will be a function of the cost gap with fossil fuels and the degree of availability  of such greener alternatives at ports worldwide. Ports and bunker suppliers might prioritise the availability of individual fuels in the short term.  But in the longer-term, ports that wish to attract the greatest possible number of future vessels  should prepare for the need to offer multiple fuel types.

The single most important factor in fuel choice will likely be the rate of decarbonisation  required by regulators. Policymakers and regulators can help close the cost gap between  green fuels and fossil fuels and create a ‘level playing field’ for all shipping companies to  accelerate their adoption of green fuels.

Johannah Christensen, CEO Global Maritime Forum, said: “To reach a zero-emissions future, the industry needs a more ambitious regulatory framework with clear reduction targets and supporting policies to close the cost gap between green fuels and the fossil fuels that currently power the global fleet. The sooner there is clarity about targets and policies, and the sooner these come into effect, the easier it will be for companies to develop a view on how to meet the goals. The role of regulators will be crucial in this process, in particular the outcome of the ongoing negotiations at the IMO.”

The companies surveyed roughly represent 20% of the world’s total fleet capacity;  they own and operate container ships, tankers, dry bulkers, gas carriers, car carriers, cruise  ships, tugs, and offshore vessels.  The survey paints a multi-fuel picture of the industry that is striking. The onus is on each  shipping company to develop its own proprietary view of its future fuel mix in line with its  business strategy and decarbonisation ambitions.

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