The transport sector is changing rapidly, driven by a need to lower emissions. We can already see the change on the roads. Now shipping is set for a huge transformation. The fleet in the 2040s and 2050s will certainly be very different to today’s.
Last week I joined a conference on the future of transport in Brussels. I will share with you a some of the points I made.
In our forecast on the future of energy we see extensive electrification. Electricity will more than double its share of the global energy mix from 19% today to 45% by mid-century. Electrification is happening in all regions and all sectors but is most strongly felt in the road transport sector, and this is especially the case in Europe which will lead the world in the uptake of light electric vehicles.
Our forecast predicts cost parity between light electric vehicles and their combustion engine counterparts in the next five years. After this, we expect electric vehicles within a few years to completely take over car sales.
What is less clear to many is what is due to happen with maritime transport. As the world’s leading classification society, we have of course looked very carefully at what is likely to happen in shipping.
We expect seaborne transport to increase by 37% between now and 2050. In the short term, energy efficient designs and energy efficient operational improvements are going to be critical. These will be driven principally via the IMO guidelines. After 2030 there is a need for large scale uptake of carbon neutral fuels – such as hydrogen, biofuels or ammonia.
Electrification is also having an impact on shipping, but primarily in coastal areas and inland waterways where electric batteries can propel the ships. For deep sea shipping, the biggest impact will come from the change in the fuel mix.
Earlier this year, the IMO reached a landmark agreement on reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2050 – compared to 2008. The reduction target is very ambitious – yet possible I believe.
Now Maersk, the world’s largest container shipping group, has thrown down the gauntlet with their announcement on cutting net carbon emissions to zero by 2050. This is a major call to action and a challenge to their whole supply chain.
So – what could fuel composition look like, if we want to reach the IMO targets? Our assessment shows that nearly 40% of ships will be powered by carbon-neutral fuels, surpassing liquid fossil fuels such as marine gas oil (MGO) and heavy fuel oil (HFO), which together will supply one third of the energy. Liquid natural gas (LNG) and liquid petroleum gas (LPG) will grow and account for nearly a quarter of the energy use. Electricity will provide about 5% of total energy.
Also, it is likely that there will be a great deal of focus on reducing stationary time for ships. Time spent in port / at anchor ranges today between 35–55% depending on ship type. The existing fleet therefore has large potential for reducing stationary time. This could allow the fleet to lower overall fuel consumption by reducing sailing speed. To do this we will need:
– Improved coordination and synchronization between ship and port, and of course
– More automated and effective cargo handling
I believe the focus on automation for short-sea shipping is likely to intensify. A month ago, we issued the world’s first Class guideline on autonomous and remotely operated ships. We are closely involved in projects testing autonomous systems.
The need to lower emissions will drive technology and innovation in shipping, and the fleet of the future will certainly be very different to that of today.
Source: Remi Eriksen, Group President and CEO at DNV GL