Maritime Movements – The Professor

By PA Sinclair, Our Shipping Correspondent


Industry insiders discussed the decarbonisation of shipping during MarineTec’s Innovation Webinar Series II, Chapter 1: Defining the Path to Decarbonisation on Wednesday 31 August, 2022.

Speakers at the event were Dr Martin Stopford from MarEcon; Yara’s Christian Berg; Carnival CEO, Tom Strang; and MarineTec’s Dr Wang Jinbo, Chris Chung and Professor Wang Zhaolin.

The industry has very mixed emotions about the Carbon Intensity Measure being introduced on 1 January 2023. The measure is designed to quantify industry success at a time when shipping demand is increasing. Dr Stopford said the ideal scenario would be if there was no trade growth; deep-sea and seaborne trade could travel at 3-10 knots; and trade could be contained to 94,000 tonnes by 2050! All agree, however, that without precision measurement, achieving zero emissions by 2050 will be difficult.

The consensus was ammonia’s role in decarbonisation is relevant though its inability to fully combust required further development.

MarineTec’s Professor Wang said: “Land transport is demonstrating actual renewable capacity and the industry needs to take one step at a time to avoid becoming overwhelmed by so many renewable choices, many of which are decades from being actualised.

Professor Wang said truck engines are demonstrating reduction in emissions from mixing fuels.

Streamlining the supply chain process through digitilisation and AI was also discussed at length. This sentiment was echoed by MarineTec’s Chris Chung
If you have digital ships, you have a fleet that is orchestrated to an optimal, precision efficiency. This increases safety, improves the supply chain flow and reduces consumption”.

The expert panel agreed current practices such as reducing speeds, better bunkering and improved fuel-flow meters are showing measurable reductions in emissions.

With batteries, fuel cells, methanol, hydrogen and retrofitting, Professor Wang’s sentiment is resounding.

The greening of shipping is a one step at a time process.

Dr Martin Stopford is a British economist. He has written a book, Maritime Economics 3Ed. “Here we are in April 2022,” he says on his website, The Maritime Lectures. “The shipping businesses are struggling to balance unexpectedly strong short-term earnings with difficult investment decisions.”

The introduction of the Carbon Intensity Measure on 1 January, 2023, as noted, is adding to the squeeze. There is an urgency restrained by pace. One step at a time.

As Professor Wang said, “Step by step. We are overwhelmed by the possibilities.”

Carnival CEO Tom Strang said, “These are exciting times, these are challenging times.” There is certainly a mood and a buzz and a desire to do everything at once and it’s hard to know where to start in this tsunami of potential, this sandstorm of possibilities.

Professor Wang reiterated, we can only go as fast as where we are at. As if to say that the lesson of this journey lies ahead of us, a golden one, that requires us all to take breath, to assess priorities and thank the person who wrote these words, whomever they are: ‘Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference’.

Though he spoke the least, his words resonated the most, such is the power of a professor.

Industry agrees trucking is currently demonstrating the capacity of renewables along the supply chain, to good effect, so this is the measure of the pace of change it seems.

Efficiency at ports and better communication along the supply chain is, everyone agreed, the ultimate enabler for ease of flow, which in turn reduces emissions. Progress is being seen here with mixed-fuels as one example.

Real long-term, zero carbon digitization initiatives and Artificial Intelligence is where the smart money wants to go before spending it all on fixing or replacing what will soon be, again, obsolete.

I for one would be happy to pay $5 if someone could stop my computer replacing my “s” with “z”. It infuriates me no end. I get the feeling the shipping industry would rather put all their money into those technologies instead of the unsurmountable costs of building new ships and adapting existing ones, which of course, they may also have to do. For now, many are well invested in research and development.

Dr Stopford spoke for the industry when he said decarbonisation is not a simple process. He added that more effective management and measurement is needed.

As noted, it doesn’t seem many people are excited about the Carbon Intensity Measure being introduced on 1 Janaury, 2023. Dr Stopford said there are current issues with hardware and labour-skills shortages: “Production methods are yet to be defined, we can’t move forward there. How much green fuel will there be? Do we have more Superships? Clever ships?

The Merchant Fleet generates the most emissions so the expert panel discussed developments in the deep-sea space. They said hydrogen is good for long distances but vessels need to refuel; batteries are good for short durations; and ammonia is good for long distance shipping, hence its appeal.

With new technologies, they are all hoping they can speed up the transition. Safely.

The final word goes to Carnival CEO, Tom Strang. His company is investing a lot of money into digitalisation and architecture. “The internal combustion engine is not going away for a while,” he noted.

In the Port this week…

Lots of lovely vessels in the port this week coming and going at speeds impossible to keep up with. A testament to the management of cargo at Fremantle Ports which will look even better when the C Shed is open.

Busy roads

Images from the train, a reminder to use public transport more often as the roads are getting busier.

Cruise bomb!

Regatta, Fremantle, December 2019. Credit Deanna Shanahan

Is it true we are about to be bombarded by zillions of people from October? Tourism is about to go next-level crazy?

We are set to welcome 24 large cruise ships will visit Fremantle in the next eight months, 6 before Christmas – as we recently reported.. Things are going to start getting busy.

Safe travels.

* By PA Sinclair, our Shipping Correspondent. For more Shipping Movements and articles by our Shipping Correspondent look here.

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