Decarbonizing maritime shipping | MIT Technology Review

Efforts to decarbonize pose risks, both environmental and economic, due to the vital position of maritime shipping in the global economy. About 80% of trade is in volume and more than 70% in value is transported through water to ports around the world. And the volume of sea freight is projected to triple by 2050 as many countries seek to achieve carbon neutrality.

As the industry tries to meet growing cargo volumes, firms will face increasing pressure from regulators, partners and customers. Amazon (the world’s largest retailer outside of China) and Ikea (the world’s largest furniture retailer) have promised to use only offshore zero-fuel operators by 2040. To bring maritime shipping in line with the objectives of the Paris Agreement, the Aspen Institute has called on governments to pursue ambitious fuel targets, create new rules and implement market measures to stimulate innovation in fuel and technology.

Shipping companies are responding to the call with ambitious efforts to both decarbonise and achieve their expected level of service. For example, Maersk, the world’s largest container company, has set a goal of reducing carbon emissions by 60% by 2030 and being neutral by 2050. The Getting to Zero coalition, an alliance of 150 companies, is pushing for the development and deployment of zero-emission vessels. by 2030, shipping should use all available tools for rapid decarbonization. Without action, their emissions will increase by 250%.

Shipping companies are experimenting with hydrogen, methanol and ammonia as alternative fuels. Rising prices for conventional fuel could be the pressure needed to push operators to alternatives. The trend towards larger ships will also allow ships to reduce emissions per tonne of cargo. These solutions improve carbon emissions, but they are not enough to achieve international goals.

Additional opportunities to reduce carbon emissions are provided by batteries for auxiliary power, airfield sails for free wind energy or even alternative building materials for containers and ships. In addition to these physical changes, data and digital technologies play a significant role in maritime shipping efforts to decarbonize.

Sensors can capture huge amounts of data needed for maritime shipping to use to reduce emissions. Digital technology will analyze, understand and calibrate ship details and operations to ensure maximum efficiency. Sensors record wind speed, water flow and engine efficiency. Then intelligent systems, based on machine learning, move ships to the most energy-efficient sailing positions.

Prognostic analytics capable of combining operational, geospatial and social data to build and optimize routes, minimizing disruptions and maximizing efficiency. The connected systems exchange important operational data and feedback data throughout and between ships to identify patterns and develop common intelligence.

Digital twins allow shipping operators to understand the past, optimize the present and model future scenarios using digital models. Modeling and forecasting scenarios will be important for maritime operators to continue to improve their carbon footprint. These are digital manifestations of data that interact with the physical world, giving operators a deep understanding of spatial relationships in context. Digital duplicates allow operators to simulate failures (weather, port delays, route changes) to make decisions that reduce emissions.

These are just some of the digital tools that can allow maritime shipping to decarbonize. However, each instance emphasizes the need for greater visibility of data across the industry. Maritime shipping was seen as a follower in the adoption of digital technology. However, more than two-thirds of the industry uses digital technology to help vessels operate and safety. Now the industry needs to turn these tools and experience data towards the issue of carbon emissions.

Operational data and digital solutions are also important for tracking and reporting the many decarbonisation indicators demanded by stakeholders, both inside and outside the company. This report demonstrates the successes or failures of critical path programs, provides ongoing support and investment, and will be increasingly in demand by regulators. Ecowatch’s solution from Infosys supports organizations in these efforts by creating a digital framework for measuring and improving decarbonisation initiatives.

Decarbonisation of shipping is not only an environmental responsibility, but also a smart business opportunity and a need to survive. Most of the world’s companies have set zero goals, and shipping companies need to provide logistics that meet these goals. Maritime providers offering such services can gain a competitive advantage, earn more revenue through differential pricing and increase their market share.

This content was prepared by Infosys. This was not written by the MIT Technology Review.

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