Zero Emission Ships to Achieve Significant Market Penetration by 2030: Report

Wednesday September 13, 2017

A new report by "Shipping in Changing Climates" (SCC) - a research project supported by over 30 partners from industry and academia including Lloyds Register, Rolls Royce, BMT, Shell, and MSI - suggests that zero emission ships will meaningfully penetrate the market by 2030.

"Zero emission ships, already becoming part of the global fleet on certain niche routes, will increasingly become the mainstream technology with significant penetration into the market from approximately 2030," said SCC.

The report also suggests that the uptake of liquefied natural gas (LNG) as marine fuel or the optimisation of ship energy efficiency alone is not sufficient, adding that greater reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) will be possible by shifting away from fossil fuels to renewable and low carbon sources of energy.

"Following our low carbon pathways 2050, we have seen a transition in the mindset, with broad industry buy-in, to do something. But the question we are asked now is, 'how are we going to do this in practice?'. The next step we are taking is to look at what threshold levels are needed to make zero emission technologies viable and what our responsibility is in handling this inevitable change," said Katharine Palmer, Environmental Manager at Lloyds Register.

SCC says that, in order to meet climate targets, ships will need to switch to cleaner fuels such as hydrogen, biofuels, or batteries.

"The risk for shipping companies is that, distracted by nearer-term regulations on SOx and other air pollutants, they fail to spot the growing political pressure behind the sector’s decarbonisation and the development of enabling technologies in the wider economy," said Tristan Smith, Reader in Energy and Transport UCL-Energy.

"The opportunity exists in spotting this change, and its synergies with compliance with other air pollution regulation. Companies need to identify which of biofuels, electrification and/or the use of synthetic fuels such as hydrogen, are best suited to their company’s decarbonisation pathway. These are not trivial changes and so need to be prepared for now."

The report follows recent discussion on shipping's role as part of wider efforts to reduce global emissions, with consultant and veteran industry expert Rudy Kassinger recently telling Ship & Bunker that marine is not the "low hanging" fruit in terms of tackling world petroleum consumption, as shipping is responsible for 90 percent of world trade but less than 3 percent of global GHGs.