Mari­ti­me Fore­cast to 2050

Carbon-neutral fuels are set to be costly and in scarce supply so the maritime industry must explore all possible ways of reaching decarbonization goals.

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The 2020’s is pro­ving to be the decisi­ve deca­de for the decar­bo­niza­ti­on of ship­ping. Regu­la­ti­ons from key bodies like the IMO and EU are taking shape, dri­ving indus­try stake­hol­ders to imple­ment plans now which will influence the direc­tion of decar­bo­niza­ti­on efforts in the coming deca­des. This year’s Mari­ti­me Fore­cast to 2050 con­ti­nues to exami­ne the impact of the latest regu­la­to­ry decis­i­ons from the EU and IMO while also pro­vi­ding an over­view of how an eco-system for carbon-neutral fuels can deve­lop. The report takes a deep dive into sel­ec­ted tech­no­lo­gies that can dri­ve grea­ter ener­gy effi­ci­en­cy in the mari­ti­me indus­try and help to alle­via­te the demand for carbon-neutral fuels in the coming decades.

IMO’s revi­sed GHG strategy

In July 2023, the IMO com­ple­ted the first revi­si­on of its green­house gas (GHG) stra­tegy, signi­fi­cant­ly streng­thening the ambi­ti­ons for inter­na­tio­nal ship­ping com­pared with the initi­al goal for a 50% GHG reduc­tion by 2050. Taking 2008 as a base­line, the revi­sed stra­tegy now aims to redu­ce well-to-wake GHG emis­si­ons by 20% in 2030, by 70% in 2040, and to reach net-zero ‘by or around’ 2050.

The GHG Stra­tegy now also addres­ses life­cy­cle GHG emis­si­ons from ship­ping, with the over­all objec­ti­ve of redu­cing GHG emis­si­ons within the boun­da­ries of the ener­gy sys­tem of inter­na­tio­nal ship­ping and pre­ven­ting a shift of emis­si­ons to other sectors.

Glo­bal fuel pro­duc­tion database

Achie­ving decar­bo­niza­ti­on goals requi­res a large-scale tran­si­ti­on to new fuels, which is alre­a­dy under­way, and this year’s Mari­ti­me Fore­cast to 2050 pres­ents a new and com­pre­hen­si­ve glo­bal fuel pro­duc­tion pro­ject data­ba­se. The stats reve­al that ship­ping would need 30–40% of the esti­ma­ted glo­bal sup­p­ly of carbon-neutral fuels if it is to meet expec­ted demand of 17 Mtoe per year by 2030, taking into account the IMO’s cur­rent GHG strategy. 

Alter­na­ti­ve decar­bo­niza­ti­on solutions

Alt­hough the mari­ti­me indus­try should con­ti­nue to prepa­re for the tran­si­ti­on to carbon-neutral fuels, the Mari­ti­me Fore­cast to 2050 recom­mends seve­ral ener­gy effi­ci­en­cy mea­su­res which can deli­ver decar­bo­niza­ti­on results now, while also con­tri­bu­ting to reduc­tions in demand and pri­ce pres­su­re in the future. In the short-term the report focu­ses on how ship­ping can evol­ve from easy, low-cost opti­ons like speed reduc­tion and rou­te opti­miza­ti­on, to incre­asing­ly digi­ta­li­zed sys­tems, and ener­gy saving tech­no­lo­gies like wind assis­ted pro­pul­si­on and air lubri­ca­ti­on systems. 

Onboard car­bon cap­tu­re and sto­rage (CCS) and nuclear pro­pul­si­on have been iden­ti­fied as poten­ti­al­ly important medi­um to long-term solu­ti­ons as increased use of both tech­no­lo­gies could con­tri­bu­te to GHG reduc­tions while also redu­cing com­pe­ti­ti­on for carbon-neutral fuels. This year the Mari­ti­me Fore­cast to 2050 pres­ents an eco­no­mic ana­ly­sis of both opti­ons through detail­ed case stu­dies which will help stake­hol­ders make infor­med decis­i­ons around the­se technologies.

An inte­gra­ted approach for decarbonization

The mari­ti­me indus­try needs to adopt an inte­gra­ted approach which ensu­res the strong evo­lu­ti­on of regu­la­ti­ons and tech­no­lo­gies, and the long-term secu­ri­ty of fuel sup­p­ly. Indi­vi­du­al shipow­ners should con­sider all available decar­bo­niza­ti­on opti­ons and focus on fuel fle­xi­bi­li­ty and redu­ced ener­gy con­sump­ti­on, while also con­side­ring a long-term fuel stra­tegy. The Mari­ti­me Fore­cast to 2050 out­lines how the mari­ti­me indus­try should con­ti­nue to col­la­bo­ra­te with fuel sup­pli­ers and other stake­hol­ders from an ear­ly stage so that cla­ri­ty over demand can be estab­lished, paving the way for final invest­ment decis­i­ons across the value chain, both onboard and onshore.

The 2020’s is a decisi­ve deca­de for ship­ping and the qua­li­ty and effec­ti­ve­ness of plans put in place now will dic­ta­te how suc­cessful the mari­ti­me indus­try is in rea­ching its decar­bo­niza­ti­on goals over the coming decades.

Figu­re 3–2 Out­line of ambi­ti­ons and mini­mum indi­ca­ti­ve check­points in the revi­sed IMO GHG strategy

© DNV 2023


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