The Transition to Net Zero: A View from Singapore Maritime Week

 In Articles

By Ros Blazejczyk

What a difference 12 months makes. A few minutes late and there weren’t sufficient chairs for all the delegates attending this year’s in person Accelerating Decarbonisation conference, part of Singapore Maritime Week. We were only allowed a coffee if we had somewhere to sit, and once you did get a seat, you didn’t dare get up. Not the best scenario for networking, but an improvement on the restrictive “groups of five” rule that was applied last year.

Once the Accelerating Decarbonisation conference did get underway, this is what we heard:

Maritime industry trends

The bad news – shipping emissions rose by 5% last year, a curve that has to be flattened by 2025 in order to meeting the 2050 zero carbon target. More bad news – shipyards are filling up with orders through to 2025 for carbon fuelled ships. There is confidence that the 2050 zero carbon target can be met, but that doesn’t mean it will be met.

What’s required is stronger industry leadership and more concrete support from governments. Something we already knew, and definitely needs to switch up.

The Global Centre for Maritime Decarbonisation, set up in August 2021 and funded by Singapore MPA and six industry partners, reported that they are piloting and testing new technologies to accelerate decarbonisation.

Their first pilot will take place in 2023 following completion of their ammonia bunkering safety study in Q1 2023 which will identify two locations in Singapore for ammonia bunkering trials. Their view is that safety studies have to run in parallel with the development of the technology in order to have a regulatory framework in place.

This is a medium term project for the GCMD. Long term solutions are looking at green fuels and infrastructure and in the near term, they said they see LNG and biofuels as important to start to reduce emissions despite their drawbacks

Taking part in the same session was the Maersk Mc-Kinney Moller Center for Zero Carbon Shipping which announced its new European green corridors project at the end of March to demonstrate commercialisation of alternative fuel supply chains.

The panel consensus in this session was that while zero carbon by 2050 is possible, that does not mean it will happen. So what needs to change?

The risk appetite from financiers currently does not match the risk profile of pilot projects. The two need to be more aligned.

Government has a role to play in providing support, grants and investment to see decarbonisation projects through to commercialisation.

Leaders need to engage with developing countries to highlight the benefits of decarbonisation – sustainability and job creation for example – as they risk being left out of the transition.

The private sector is currently moving much more quickly than the public sector, but it can carry the public sector along with it. This was a comment in response to a question as to whether decarbonisation will come from the IMO or from tech giants like Apple and Amazon. And there wasn’t really a decisive answer to that.

Here at Solis Marine, our naval architects and structural engineers are working on a number of projects to advance the transition to alternative fuels and propulsion and future clean vessel design. To find out more, please email r.blazejczyk@solis-marine.com

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