There is a sense of urgency around decarbonization in the maritime industry. This year, the International Energy Agency announced that average annual improvements of +4% up to 2030 are needed to set shipping on the right course for net zero emissions. To succeed, the sector requires more than just developments in fuels and technology. It needs a fundamental change in mindset.
That shift starts with the adoption of a holistic approach to the maritime business – one in which the ocean is a key stakeholder, and nurturing the health of oceans is understood as intrinsic to human progress. What change might this bring about in the coming decades? We take a virtual tour of the future of maritime.
Projecting ourselves into the future of the maritime industry, we find technology that is either established or emerging today. In this future, technologies are scaled up and streamlined into a cohesive ecosystem that shapes a better maritime industry for both people and the planet.
shaping a better maritime world interactive map
EXPLORE WHAT FUTURE HOLDS FOR SHIPPING
WHAT’S ON THE HORIZON FOR SHIPPING?
Picture standing on the shore, looking out to sea, a few decades from now. Travelling not far from the coast are two state-of-the-art bulk carriers; one powered by a green ammonia fuel cell system, the other incorporating wind-assisted propulsion technology. Both ships are assisted by complex digital guidance systems that compile and analyze onboard and environmental data to find the most fuel-efficient routes. Conditions for the crew are improved both in comfort and safety, thanks to improvements in living quarters, ventilation and air-conditioning.
Gazing further out toward the horizon, we see a vast and luxurious mega cruise ship. In many ways, it is a familiar sight, but this vessel features several key differences from its counterparts today. Thanks to its combination of LNG as fuel and onboard carbon capture technology, this ship has a significantly reduced footprint, despite its increased size. Onboard, operators have implemented zero-plastic and waste reuse programs to further cut the vessel’s environmental impact.
Alongside the cruise ship, out in the deep sea, sail next-generation cargo ships that may become a feature of global freight. Ship have grown steadily since the 1960s to answer to economies of scale and fuel efficiency, with some container ships now boasting a 24,000 TEU capacity. When at port, these giant ships systematically connect to electric shore power, lowering emissions in port.
This vision of the future will be achieved by retrofitting existing tonnage and building new ships. Retrofitting and conversions to maintain compliance for in service ships may be achieved with less material waste and fewer emissions thanks to additive manufacturing. Already used across industries, this means of production can be used for anything from small machinery parts to giant ship propellers.
PREDICTIONS FOR OFFSHORE ENERGY PRODUCTION
In this not-so-distant future, marine renewable energy will form a more significant part of the global energy mix.
In this vision, floating wind farms, wave and tidal power arrays provide a large proportion of the onshore grid’s renewable energy. The immense power of the tides and the wind are harnessed to create green energy. Design improvements mean that tomorrow’s tidal and wind turbines are able to produce far greater energy yields than their today’s equivalents. Storage solutions are an important part of this equation. They help combat the issue of fluctuations in wind power versus the demands of the grid. In floating offshore windfarms, a process of electrolysis uses sea water to turn excess energy into hydrogen. The hydrogen is then stored on the sea bed to be converted back to power during periods of low wind.
As renewable green energy markets emerge and scale up, carbon-intensive industries will continue to offset their emissions through carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS), supported by the maritime resources. Next-generation CO2 carriers will leverage carbon storage technology to transport liquefied CO2 to its drop-off point on- or offshore, where it is reused, or trapped in disused oil and gas wells repurposed for permanent CO2 injection.