Wärtsilä now informs that such dramatic changes could push demand for tankers down by a third, with many ships becoming stranded assets. What is more, the value of the world’s dry bulk ships could be cut in half by 2030, dropping from USD 195bn to USD 90bn.

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Adding to this, it is said that tankers and bulk ships can be a major investment with a lifespan of approximately 30 years. Yet, in the light of the the possible changes, many owners may now consider other ways to move forward, but some of those working in the future fuels industry say that the transition to cleaner fuels can actually be positive for tankers.

Andrew Deaner, managing director of ShipEco Marine and one of several innovators who are planning for the future of tankers quoted to Wärtsilä, highlighting that

Repurposing old tankers means you push the decommissioning down the road, so it’s very clean and very green.

It is said that some are trying to do wave energy close to shore, yet as there are waves and subsequently no energy. Deaner stresses that people “need to go a long way offshore to capture the high energetic sea states.” It is further added that “because we’re mobile, we can move out of bad weather. We’ve done all the tank testing, and we think we’ve got a reasonable situation.”

Wärtsilä, notes that in order to create a wave energy station, a turbine is fitted inside the vessel which is driven by the air pressure the waves create. The electricity can then be used to make other products, the team is currently focused on how it could produce liquid natural air, which also has potential as a form of storing energy.

Whatsoever, some industry experts can be critical wondering if the tankers simply could be repurposed to carry clean, green fuels. According to Wärtsilä, Fredrik Östman, General Manager of business development at Wärtsilä Marine Business outlines that “in the future, we will have a far wider range of fuels, and they will also vary increasingly in quality.”

What is more, Östman estimates that tanker owners and ports need to become more aware of the specific quality of fuel they are handling in order to avoid challenges in the operation. Östman adds that

You can also repurpose [tankers] so that they are not used for transportation.

For instance, tankers “could be used for storage, or we have seen ships converted into offshore power plants.” Sigmund Larsen, founder of EnviroNor further says that “a lot of cities around the world have a problem with wastewater, but they don’t want to talk about it.”

Adding to this, although cleaning and refitting the tankers can take up to a year, Larsen says this process is still 20-25% cheaper than building a new plant on land.  He stresses that

We can also continue the ship’s life for maybe 40 years after it is meant to be scrapped, because the regulations are less when it’s static.

Lastly, it is said that even as the world makes the transition to a lower carbon future, tankers can still remain a good investment with a number of possibilities, some which could even extending their lifespan beyond the current norms, increasing shipping’s ‘green’ potential.