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ICS Leadership Insights Live: Infrastructure Transformation round-up

3 June 2021

Infrastructure transformation and collaboration between all maritime and onshore stakeholders will be key to achieve net zero goals, said speakers at the Leadership Insights Live event on 2 June 2021.

Guy Platten, ICS Secretary General, noted the efforts that will be needed in the coming years to meet decarbonisation goals:

“Moving the world’s shipping fleet to new, lower or zero carbon sources of energy will require a huge effort to transform the existing fuel production, bunkering and port infrastructure and demands collaboration across sectors. But the imperative for change and the willingness to succeed are there, and will provide opportunities to drive global growth and prosperity.”

Sakura Kuma, CEO, APM Terminals, Japan also stressed the need for initiatives with other sectors in the maritime supply chain for digitalisation and decarbonisation goals.

Kuma noted that ports of the future will “inevitably go towards automation” in the mid to long term. Two factors driving this in Japan, she explained, are the pressure to improve the working environment at ports and an ageing work force and lower birth rates creating labour supply issues.

“Automation will be the future picture. To do that the first step for automation is still digitalisation,” she said. As part of this there will continue to be a drive towards visibitility of data along the entire supply chain utilising block chain technology, such as TradeLens, developed in collaboration with Maersk and IBM.

She also noted the trend towards a greater port-city nexus, and quoted a prediction that 68% of the population will live in cities in the next 20 years. “The port-city function will be expanded and more populations will live in a city that has a port,” she said. As such, green considerations and locations of manufacturing sites will have to be taken into account.

Future fuels

Carl Henrikson, General Manager, Shipping & Maritime Technology, Innovation and Digitalisation, Shell, said that his organisation’s strategy is to become a net zero business by 2050, and in its shipping activities Shell “wants to play an active role”. Henrikson stressed, however, that the transition is complex and “won’t simply happen overnight”.

To drive real change as an industry the three key areas of focus should be: future fuels, technology and policy, he explained.

Henrikson referred to a Shell’s ‘All Hands on Deck’ report, which asked 80 senior leaders what the barriers to decarbonisation are and how to break deadlocks on progress. “Of those leaders, 80% saw alignment on fuel as a major barrier,” he said. “This is something that fuel providers, charterers, ship managers have all grappled with. For different parts of the industry there may well be different solutions so a poly-fuel world may be inevitable.”

Shell’s modelling work on future fuel’s well-to-wake emissions shows that hydrogen is likely to be the most viable and dominant fuel, enabled by fuel cell technology and “LNG playing a vital role throughout the transition,” explained Henrikson.

What is known for sure is that future fuels will require “serious investment”, but Henrikson stressed that costs will come down the more the maritime supply chain collaborates to achieve economies of scale. He added that the long-term cost of production of different fuels and the maturation needed to find long term emission reduction potential must be considered on a “complete end-to-end basis, not moving from one part of the supply chain to the other, it must be the entire system, not just the ships”.

Technology needs

Importantly, Henrikson said that there will undoubtedly be “immense work” needed on the analysis and testing of future fuels to be brought to market at scale but said “we have got to work now, we can’t sit back.” Vital to this work, he noted, is the need to address the technology gap associated with future zero-emission fuels. So too will be how the fuels are transported and stored on ships considering they all have lower energy density, therefore more fuel will be needed for the same levels of power.

“Energy efficient technology can start to begin to mitigate these challenges,” he said. “Policy and global progress on decarbonisation is also needed to create the foundation of a global policy framework. Shipping is fundamentally an international industry and to drive change fairly this must be done with global regulation.”

Platten reminded those on the call of the proposed USD $5 billion IMO Maritime Research Fund (IMRF) that would use mandatory contributions from the world’s shipping companies to commission collaborative programmes for the applied research and development of zero carbon technologies to assist in achieving zero emission goals. The IMRF is going to be discussed at the upcoming critical meeting at the IMO of the Marine Environment Protection Committee (10-17 June).

Green thinking

Sally Sudworth, Global Head of Sustainability and Climate Change, Mott MacDonald, said that the move to zero emissions requires a change of what maritime uses to define value. “We are used to doing so based on financial return but we should look to broaden the choices we make every day to take into account carbon and sustainability in the round.”

She noted opportunities to pilot innovative approaches in and around ports that other cities have already begun developing, such as floating developments like those in Amsterdam, that have utilities connections and can be protected from storms.

There is also opportunity to be had from growth in green infrastructure and use of zero emission fuels. Sudworth added: “Green economy will mean job creation and green economic growth. There is huge opportunity for attracting green finance. There are a number of organisations that have floated green bonds on the market and been inundated for interest and buyers. There is an appetite for that sort of investment.”

View the full event here