What’s the future of transportation? Will it continue to be an important enabler of economic growth, and what form will it take? DNV GL Group President and CEO Remi Eriksen explored trends such as alternative fuels, information technology, the need for new infrastructure and more in his speech to the 2016 Oslo Energy Forum in early February.
Remi Eriksen joined thinkers and decision-makers from across politics and business sectors at this year’s Forum, which was themed “Affordability, Security and Sustainability – Revisiting the Balance?”
In his speech on the Future of Transportation, Eriksen described a forecast “both fast and slow”: where a complex and fast-changing world will play against a period of slower global growth. He believes shipping will continue to play an important part in the world economy for many centuries to come, but will be subject to new regulations and requirements as industries worldwide try to cut emissions and become more efficient.
As the focus shifts to alternative fuels, Eriksen says the choice will not be based on price alone but “a balance of benefits related to safety, affordability, reliability and sustainability.”
While liquefied natural gas (LNG) is the leading alternative fuel today, it won’t on its own cut shipping industry CO2 emissions by 60 per cent below present levels. That’s the reduction the UN Environment Programme says is needed as the sector’s contribution to staying below the global two degrees warming limit. However, LNG will eliminate SOx emissions and significantly reduce NOx and particulate matter. This will significantly lower local emissions and have a very positive impact in the urban areas which typically surround ports. In fact, for some regions, health problems related to local emissions have replaced climate change as a driver for energy efficiency and selection of fuel type. Eriksen says electrification and hybrid solutions are viable options, particularly for short sea shipping and ferry crossings, but better infrastructure is key in order to realize the benefits.
Ship to shore
Another big trend is the rapid development within information and communication technology. Eriksen believes the transfer of data, its analysis and integration into decision-making processes could revolutionize shipping. Smarter monitoring of the condition of a ship’s systems and components will lead to more cost effective, targeted and timely maintenance – just as it has in the aviation industry – and could significantly improve shipping’s safety performance.
Information and communication technology could eventually lead to the development of the unmanned vessel, illustrated by DNV GL’s Revolt prototype. Such ships would have reduced risk of accidents caused by human error.
Collaboration is key
Eriksen concluded by telling the Forum that in order to develop sustainable transportation solutions with a big enough impact, cross-industry innovation is essential. The future of transport must be forged in collaboration with business, technology developers, policy makers, academia and the civil society.