As the hoi polloi of the shipping industries descend upon Oslo for Nor-Shipping 2019, Wärtsilä has kickstarted the week with a Future Innovation Day – Horizons event on Day Zero to get the creative juices flowing. Hailed as a gathering of sharp minds the event sees maritime stalwarts, governmental institutions, students and civil society riffing together to formulate futuristic yet pragmatic ways of transitioning to green shipping.
Bill Hemmings, Director, Aviation and Shipping, Transport and Environment, Hans-Petter Nesse, Managing Director Wärtsilä Norway, and Tamara de Gruyter, Vice President, Marine Business, Area Europe & Africa, Wärtsilä delivered in their opening speeches this morning, a crystal-clear reality check about the state of shipping – Change needs to come.
According to the International Maritime Organization, the specialised agency of the UN responsible for regulating shipping, maritime transport emits around 940 million tonnes of CO2 annually and is responsible for about 2.5 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions. As such, the IMO is challenging the industry to strive for carbon-neutrality as soon as the development of new fuels and propulsion systems will allow it. Key to yielding a successful and timely step change, concedes the event organisers, is a borderless collaboration with optimism being the foundation of true progress.
One such manifestation of this spirit is the ZEEDS project. The Zero Emission Energy Distribution at Sea, is an initiative from six forward-leaning companies which share one common goal: To explore the fastest routes towards zero emissions shipping. The powerful coalition includes Aker Solutions, an offshore engineering and technology company, Equinor, the multinational energy company, DFDS, an international shipping and logistics company, Grieg Star, an international ship-owning and operating company, Kvaerner, a leading EPC specialist and, Wärtsilä, a leader in smart technologies for the marine and energy markets.
The Nordic consortium will be introducing the project at Horizons, citing that co-operation and transparency between partners are integral to the formation of a smarter, cleaner maritime ecosystem and a sustainable bunkering infrastructure for the ships of tomorrow. “We support the UN Sustainable Development goals and believe we can accelerate the shift toward zero emissions shipping by addressing challenges related to supply, storage and distribution of clean, alternative fuels,” says ZEEDS spokesperson, Cato Esperø, Sales Director, Marine Division, Nordics and Baltics, Wärtsilä.
Through the ZEEDS project, the partners have explored several potential solutions and will be sharing some of the most promising ideas at the Horizons event. “Imagine a network of clean energy hubs placed near the world’s busiest shipping lanes, capable of supplying and distributing clean fuels to the world’s fleet,” Esperø says. “It sounds ambitious, but if we are truly serious about managing climate change, we need big ideas and bold action.”
ZEEDS is now looking for cooperation from other stakeholders, both within and outside the shipping industry. “We invite the industry to share their ideas and help us solve technical challenges,” says Esperø. “We encourage regulators to provide a framework for a new clean fuel supply infrastructure, and we welcome the participation of investors to plan and finance new construction. We want to work closely with port authorities to reduce city pollution and allow urban expansion. And we call on governments to propose policies that support the development of clean energy infrastructure and spur the industry to embrace a faster transition to zero emissions shipping.”
This quote truly encapsulates the mission at Horizons today as attendees will be workshopping the big challenges: Can smart marine solutions help preserve living standards in port cities? Does affordable clean energy lie offshore? How best to maximise the energy-efficiency of future vessels? How to accelerate the uptake of renewable fuels? How to remain profitable in green shipping? How is consumer behaviour changing the maritime business landscape? How best to grow and harvest sustainable food?
We’re no doubt sailing into a climate-challenged future, but the dialogue at today’s event brings with it a sense of purpose and reasons for optimism. We have the will, we have the technological prowess and we have the ecosystem-thinking to make zero-emission shipping a reality. Every step forward is a victory, and now it’s a matter of plotting the course and delivering on the ideas sparked today.