In an exclusive interview to SAFETY4SEA, Mr. Brent Perry, CEO of Shift Clean Energy, explains the benefits with the use of marine batteries, highlighting that safety measures and increased trust are vital for a widespread adoption. Mr. Perry also refers to key barrier and drivers towards maritime decarbonization and stresses the need for leadership and legislation to accelerate progress.
SAFETY4SEA: Which are the key barriers and drivers towards maritime decarbonization?
Brent Perry: The key driver towards maritime decarbonization is the need to reduce global warming now. We must meet the Paris Agreement goal of limiting the global temperature increase to 1.5C. The alternative is unthinkable. Where I live, in British Columbia, Canada, we’re seeing some of the implications of global warming – unprecedented wildfires and flooding. It’s clear we’re in a critical moment. I was in Glasgow at the Ship Zero conference in November. Companies from across the maritime sector gathered there during COP26 to talk about how to get to zero emissions. There was real energy in the room. I felt quite optimistic by conference end.
There are, however, barriers to getting to zero emissions, and we need to get working on removing them. Industry governance needs to be addressed. We need to align all the elements of the industry into a cohesive plan. The marine industry is global, and this presents a very difficult challenge. It is a very fractured space in this sense. Legislation is another area that needs to be addressed Legislation is needed to ensure cohesive adoption of any new regulations in every country at the same time. This will facilitate effective support of the industry’s transition to zero emissions. There are financial barriers. More financing is coming now, which is great. But it has been slow to arrive in our industry and will be critical in aligning commercial structures with capital to drive investment to support decarbonization.
Some good news is that the maritime industry is technology ready. There are a lot of choices – maybe even too many choices. But there is not enough real data in the hands of decision makers. They need more information to be able to make the appropriate decisions to future-proof their businesses. Another barrier is our fractured global leadership. There are too many interests being served that contradict decarbonization as a priority. Lastly, I think we need to look at the state of business today. The cost of maritime transition needs to be supported. Paying for this change shouldn’t be on the backs of the end operators and users. The time it has taken to achieve this support has been too slow. I hope it will speed up now.
S4S: What are your aspirations from COP26? Are you satisfied with topics discussed and progress made with regards to maritime decarbonization?
Br.P.: Overall, yes, I am satisfied with the discussions that took place regarding maritime decarbonization at COP26. Finance is finally at the table, and this will drive everything. Every party in the chain of our industry is aligned. We now need the leadership and the legislation to define the next steps, but at a faster pace than what they are currently working at.
S4S: How could industry stakeholders be further motivated to leave their mark on zero carbon shipping? What are your ideas/recommendations?
Br.P.: In the end, a system has to support the survival of its participants, and this will call for significant changes to how we are dealing with decarbonization today. My recommendation is to settle on a measuring of carbon cost of construction of vessels and environmental payback targets so that all technical solutions can have a measuring stick to determine what is best for each type of vessel, and then let that standard and payback metric allow businesses and solutions to build future-proof industry, with legislative support and finance, and focus on net zero solutions.
S4S: Why should ship operators choose marine batteries? What are the benefits?
Br. P: Batteries are the source of many ways to improve efficiency overall, their ability to impact how every system works and to optimize the cost of operations and positively impact decarbonization are unlike any technology innovation since the introduction of the diesel engine in the early 20th century. Simply put, energy storage optimizes every piece of equipment onboard, whether it is a fuel driven engine, a fuel cell, an alternative fuel, or any other source of energy generation. It allows every piece of equipment to work to its best potential in both environmental impact and cost of operations, delivering both societal and corporate goals at the same time. With ESS, it is now possible to meet our environmental goals and deliver value to the bottom line, without compromise.
S4S: Where does the industry currently stand with regards to marine electrification? How could it go the extra mile for widespread adoption?
Br. P.: Marine electrification is being incorporated at a furious pace and our capabilities are expanding nearly daily. It is not a fast-paced industry in terms of adoption typically, but as of late the adoption, legislation, engineering standards and commercial acceptance are moving at light-speed. It’s an exciting time.To make that progress happen even faster and further, we need to address some of those barriers I mentioned earlier.
S4S: Are there any safety concerns with regards to the use of marine batteries?
Br.P.: Yes, the pace of adoption is outstripping the development of appropriate safety standards. We are still in the very early stages of learning about battery performance and safety in the MW scale applications. This is an issue that really matters to us at Shift. We’re advocating for more stringent safety standards for marine batteries and will be pressing the case for higher standards in Brussels. I’d like to see the standard bearers and flag authorities move swiftly on this. We need to mitigate the risks and deliver the standards required to ensure safety. And that is very attainable. Shift has attained it. We have a battery system that will withstand a 950C heat event without lithium cells contributing to the fire. Our batteries don’t catch fire – ever. Every battery should be that way.
S4S: What is your wish list for the industry stakeholders with regards to marine electrification?
Br.P.: I wish for clarity of targets. If we can agree on the carbon payback model, this would level the field and focus efforts, investment and finance in the right direction, and quickly eliminate the confusion about the broad range of solutions available. It would clarify the legislation needed to win the global impact war, give every party in the industry the ability to make sure every aspect of our industry is similarly focussed on meeting our needed targets on a global scale.
S4S: What needs to be considered in discussions in order to prevent the risk of battery fires?
Br.P.: Test, validate. Set the bar higher for safer, more reliable systems. It’s time to stop measuring in $/kWh, this is meaningless. It’s time to start focussing on $/kWh produced. Make the needed systems suppliers i.e., fire management, ventilation, needed equipment, etc., meet the needs of the technology’s capability in order to manage its energy safely.
S4S: In your view, has the industry been successful in enhancing its environmental performance? What are the lessons learned and what should be the next steps?
Br.P.: It is currently not marketed or promoted well enough. We have built a very large inventory of solutions but there is no real understanding in society around this yet. ICS and IMO need to promote the real commercial and environmental benefits of all solutions. The next steps would be to engage in a broader information program around this issue – including social media and other channels – bringing the message to the people and to educational institutions.
S4S: Do you have any plans/ projects/ initiatives to further support decarbonization that you would like to share?
Br.P.: We are excited to share that we will be building the first zero emission container ship within the next three years. That will change everything.
S4S: If you could change one thing across the industry from your perspective, what this would be and why?
Br.P.: I would like the industry to stop the greenwashing and deliver real information to the market and the public. We need to reinforce the need to act now and not wait.
S4S: What is your key message to industry stakeholders with respect to a more sustainable and decarbonized future?
Br.P.: Everyone needs to be committed to win the battle of decarbonization we are in now. There can be no compromise.
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.