A survey of shipowners conducted by design and engineering consultancy, Houlder, has highlighted that reliance on ad hoc collaboration between ship owners, and between technology companies and owners, is a major barrier to the decarbonisation of shipping.
he research uncovers that while the potential impact of more in-depth interaction is significant in achieving carbon reduction commitments, this is not currently being delivered in a way that owners need.
According to the report, every senior industry player interviewed confirmed that there is a willingness to collaborate and that it is critical to achieving rapid, fundamental change. However, collaboration is less evident in practice, as owners focus on achieving emissions reductions while safeguarding competitive advantage.
The research further discovered two core areas for improvement:
- Collaboration between owners and clean technology providers;
- Collaboration between owners themselves.
In fact, owners identified a lack of good quality and relevant operating data as a key barrier to the uptake of clean technology. There is also a perceived shortage of independent corroboration for the claims made by some technology vendors.
What is more, none of the participants accused technology providers of suggesting deliberately misleading results but reflected that the data in a brochure will inevitably relate to another ship. So the results of any technology intervention need to be recognised as a retrospective, and sometimes fundamental, design change.
Continuing, large shipowners, in particular, are doing a great deal to move the industry forward by creating clear demand for future green fuels, by setting up infrastructure to trial new technologies, and by sharing some of their findings. However, according to respondents, that only highlights the challenge for the smaller owners and medium-sized owners – where typically the scale and investment required for R&D and trialling was unattainable.
To play their part, these smaller and medium shipowners need to draw in partners in order to access the knowledge, scale and resources to enable them to make changes
the report suggests.
Moreover, effective collaboration needs convenors to protect participants and break down barriers. Convenors can act as a central black box, bringing sensitive information together to paint the full picture while protecting the confidentiality of the data owners. They can also help ship owners share the cost of trialling a new technology while giving them all access to the benefits.
This research highlights that, while the heart is willing, the head remains focused on safeguarding competitive advantage. This creates a fundamental barrier which has to be addressed if shipping is to achieve its decarbonisation goals
Sean McLaughlin, Strategy Consultant at Houlder, commented.