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Wednesday, January 30, 2019 

Lloyd’s Register (LR) and University Maritime Advisory Services (UMAS) have released details from a study that aims to show what is needed to enable the transition zero-emission vessels so that shipowners can achieve the IMO’s Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Strategy 2050 ambition.

The new ‘Zero-Emission Vessels Transition Pathways’ study addresses key questions such as what needs to happen between now and in the next three decades for ship deployment, and what needs to happen within this period to develop the supply infrastructure?

“There is still uncertainty when choosing one fuel, one technology and one route and therefore this decade will need to see full-scale pilots and prototypes, the development of policy, standards and rules, and will be characterised by first adopters driven by consumer pressure,” says Lloyd’s Register in a statement on its website.

Detailing the progress that could be made across each decade up to the 2050, the study suggests that zero-carbon solutions will be scaled up in the 2030s. “We expect to see a consolidation of what the dominant technologies for use onboard will be and the interactions between end-fuel price, machinery costs and revenue loss will be better understood. We will start to see ships being designed to store less energy on board and changes to their operating profile to bunker more frequently,” the study reveals.

Although the likelihood of any pathway to a zero emission ships is difficult to assess, it is anticipated that a growing share of biofuels in the 2020s with on-going efforts to develop fuels produced from renewable electricity, referred to as electro-fuels, will result in a major shift to electro-fuels in the 2040s and 2050s.

“We expect that by 2050, and beyond consolidation of the market, to see an end fuel mix dominated by one family of fuels, says Lloyd’s Regsiter.

Previous LR and UMAS studies, Low Carbon Pathways (in conjunction with Shipping in Changing Climates) and Zero-Emission Vessels 2030, have shown that to achieve at least a 50% reduction in CO2 by 2050 and to be on course for a CO2 pathway consistent with the Paris Agreement, Zero-Emission Vessels need to be entering the fleet around 2030. What's more, a significant portion of new-builds will have to be zero emission to compensate for the non-zero emissions of the existing fleet.

By investigating all key energy sources capable of facilitating zero-carbon ship fuel, the study supports those who are planning to finance, design or build a ship in the 2020s and who will need to consider how their ships can switch to non-fossil fuel later in its operational life.

LR’s Global Sustainability Manager, Katharine Palmer said: “2020 – 2030 is the most significant decade and the study stresses the urgency for early action. Scaling up of zero-carbon fuels relies on clarity of the direction taken in the wider energy system. Uncertainty risks delaying important investments within the world’s fleet and infrastructure.”

UMAS’ Principal Consultant, Carlo Raucci said: “It doesn’t happen very often, to live such moments of a global transition towards a new paradigm. This study has given us the opportunity to reflect on the actions needed to achieve a desirable future with zero-emission vessels dominating the shipping industry. There are different paths to reach this goal and every turn of a path has its seduction and promises attached. A path may hold so many possibilities for shipping stakeholders but what is clear though is that the era of emitting fossil fuels must be left behind.”

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