In an exclusive interview to SAFETY4SEA, Mr. Ulrik Dan Frørup – Commercial Director, Bureau Veritas Marine & Offshore, gives us advice on the pursuit of alternative fuels, highlighting that there is no best option; operators need to consider all financial risks as wells as related construction and retrofitting costs and the logistics challenges.
n that regard, risk analysis is vital when assessing the different possibilities for using new fuels. As explained, shipping can achieve its decarbonisation goals but only if pessimism is excluded. Despite the COVID crisis, there has been a lot of movement in the maritime world and a major transformation within shipping industry that will lead to innovations, Mr. Ulrik Dan Frørup concludes.
SAFETY4SEA: What are the key green shipping challenges up to 2030 from your perspective?
Ulrik Dan Frørup: The world is desperately waiting to see a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, but to this day, there is no single alternative fuel system that is ready to deploy on a wide enough scale to enable the maritime sector to achieve net zero. Therefore, shipping is facing two simultaneous battles: it needs to show significant progress now, while also keeping up efforts towards long-term green innovation and carbon-free fuels, which we may not see fully deployed until 10, 15 or even 20 years from now. In other words, the sector must keep a dual focus on the immediate pragmatic actions needed to reduce its emissions now, whilst also preparing for, and investing in, a complete transformation of the energy supplies it uses to power its ships. This is a tricky situation for shipowners, who must make the right calls now without having a complete picture of what supply chains for alternative fuels will look like in a decade from now.
S4S: What should be the key priorities for the shipping industry with regards to a more sustainable future and how does your organization aim to assist towards that end?
U.D.F.: Decarbonising shipping will require efforts on two key areas. Firstly, a focus must be placed on developing alternative fuels, with the ultimate goal to go completely carbon-free, and intermediate solutions such as biofuels and biogas also playing an important transitionary role. The second priority should be to reduce the need for energy in the maritime sector, by improving the energy efficiency of operations through better routeing and digitalisation, as well as clean technologies such as wind propulsion or air lubrication.
S4S: How can class societies assist in facilitating the transition to new fuels and how does Bureau Veritas help operators towards that end?
U.D.F.: BV’s greatest strength is our expertise and knowledge on all the main alternative fuels currently considered by shipping, including ammonia and hydrogen. Classification societies play a key role through their rules and guidelines, which guide shipowners, shipyards and technology providers on the safe use and carriage of new fuels and provide specific rules to mitigate the risks linked to flammability and toxicity, for example. This is key to support the development of new technologies, while giving stakeholders confidence in the safety and reliability of innovative solutions. At BV, we also work directly on research and development projects together with our industry partners, supporting risk assessments to ensure the safety of everyone involved.
S4S: When it comes to alternative fuels, there is currently a debate for the best option. In that regard, what is your advice to ship operators when choosing fuels for their fleet? What should they consider in their decision making?
U.D.F.: At BV, we do not advocate for any fuel in particular, as long as the appropriate rules and standards are met to ensure the safety of marine operations. We have a neutral position which enables us to provide insights and information that support the key decisions facing ship owners and operators. To this day, there are very few zero-carbon options that are ready to be implemented on a wide scale to decarbonise shipping. We are currently moving away from a world where nearly all vessels are using the same fuel. In this context, choosing what fuels will propel their vessels in 10, 20 or 30 years from now comes with a financial risk for shipowners. Feasibility studies must take into consideration the construction and retrofitting costs, as well as the logistics challenges related to assuring the availability of bunkering facilities along the intended routes. Risk analysis is more important than ever when assessing the different possibilities for using new fuels.
S4S: How could industry stakeholders be motivated to leave their mark on zero carbon shipping? What are your suggestions/ recommendations?
U.D.F.: There must be incentives to encourage companies to become first movers and innovate. Green financing is also a challenge, and we hope to see governments and regulators offer financial support to develop solutions. This is something that will need political support, and the willingness to invest in solutions for the wider supply chains. Given that shipping is without borders and includes a large number of small players, there is also a need for international consensus and clarity about the statutory requirements for reducing emissions in the years to come. Furthermore, as investors and the public in general increasingly demand action on climate change, it is likely that a push towards decarbonisation will come from consumers.
S4S: In your view, has the industry been successful in enhancing its environmental performance? What should be the next steps?
U.D.F.: Shipping stakeholders are well aware of the importance of reducing their emissions and most are ready to do their part. The sector has come a long way, and we must keep in mind that several stakeholders must come together to successfully complete the energy transition, including shipyards, energy suppliers, financial institutions, local and port authorities and governments.
S4S: If you could change one thing across the industry from your perspective, what this would be and why?
U.D.F.: We need a clear direction and firm consensus in terms of the long-term regulatory requirements that will apply globally in the long term, to help shipping achieve its emissions reductions ambitions. These requirements must be enforced by IMO and supported by Member States through investments and industrial development. The industry needs a clear direction, to ensure everyone is on board with one set of rules that apply to all.
S4S: Do you have any plans/ projects/ initiatives to support innovation in green shipping that you would like to share?
U.D.F.: Bureau Veritas has several ongoing joint development projects with industry partners, including on green technologies and future fuels. We have also joined a number of coalitions, groups and initiatives to facilitate collaboration and information sharing, such as the Hydrogen Council and the Getting to Zero Coalition. Internally, BV has also completed a green transition to ensure that all our services are linked to sustainability goals.
S4S: What is your key message to industry stakeholders with respect to the transition to new alternative fuels?
U.D.F.: I firmly believe that shipping can achieve its decarbonisation goals. Realism is important, but pessimism should not be allowed, given the actions and commitments that we have seen from the industry in the past three years. Despite the COVID crisis, there has been a lot of movement in the maritime world. This is a major transformation for shipping and the world, which will bring a lot of very promising innovation, and we are there to support the industry in the sustainability journey.
The views presented hereabove are only those of the author and do not necessarily those of SAFETY4SEA and are for information sharing and discussion purposes only.