With crucial climate discussions at COP26 less than a month away, industry experts from shipping and the energy sector came together at the latest ICS Leadership Insights series to discuss the commitments and challenges that will be needed to decarbonise shipping.
uy Platten, ICS Secretary General and moderator of the event on 20 October, opened proceedings by noting that shipping has not only acknowledged the urgency to decarbonise but has laid out the ‘what’ and the ‘how’ in a recent submission to the IMO that calls for more ambitious climate targets to deliver net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
However, the path to decarbonisation will require commitments and poses sizeable challenges to overcome. Namely, Roland Roesch, Deputy Director, Innovation and Technology Centre, International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), laid out facts from IRENA’s report, A Pathway to Decarbonise the Shipping Sector by 2050, which states that if shipping can switch to use 70% renewable fuels by 2050 it would enable CO2 emission cuts of 80%.
To reach this goal, Roesch mentioned that renewable fuels would overall account for 60% of the decarbonisation pathway, 20% from improvement to vessels’ energy efficiency, 17% would come from ‘sectoral activity changes’ and 3% from the use of advanced biofuels.
Moving to net zero requires a 100% renewable energy mix by 2050. To achieve this more ambitious goal, taking early action is critical
Guy Platten also pointed to the shipping industry’s recent submission to the IMO to achieve zero carbon emissions by 2050. The submission was part of a suite of proposals that included a compulsory R&D fund to develop zero-carbon technologies, the development of a global carbon levy for shipping to expedite the behavioural transition to more-expensive zero-carbon fuels, and a review of the basic training requirements for seafarers so they can safely handle these more volatile fuels.
If adopted by governments at the IMO, we believe these initiatives can lead to regulation that will swiftly move the shipping sector to a zero-carbon future
Continuing, Christopher J. Wiernicki, Chairman, President & CEO, American Bureau of Shipping, agreed that the decarbonisation of shipping will have to be a “team sport”.
Quite frankly, it’s going to require essentially a new level of public, private partnerships. It will require governments to step up and step in
Wiernicki also added that ports and bunkering infrastructure will be “vital” in supporting this fuel transition, as “just securing the required quantities of zero carbon fuels to power industry transition is going to require scaling up the global renewable energy source by somewhere around a factor of 10.”
Moreover, Lois K. Zabrocky, President, CEO and Director of International Seaways Inc., detailed how she is preparing for this transformation.
There are around 850 VLCCs [Very Large Crude Carrier] in the world and one of the critical pieces is that every vessel operating today will need to incrementally increase efficiency constantly. Every microbubble technology, hull coatings, slow speeding, whatever it takes
For the mid-term, Zabrocky outlined that International Seaways has partnered with Shell to build dual fuel VLCCs due in 2023 that have the ability to burn LNG or conventional fuels.
These VLCCs will be 40% more efficient than 20-year-old vessel’s and 10% more than brand new vessels that run on conventional fuel
However, a lack of clarity is causing owners to hold back on investment decisions, Zabrocky noted.
We are under-invested at the moment in conventional fuels. Everyone has pulled back in investing in CapEx and oil and gas because we need to decarbonise, but in the meantime, what is available today for someone to build a ship?
Concluding, Wiernicki’s final remarks focused on one key area shipping must not forget when travelling along the decarbonisation path: people.
When we talk about safety we talk a lot about technology, but that has no common sense, it is people. Let’s not forget about the people in this process … and what does that next generation talent look like in this new world of dynamic fuels and greater links into ship and port