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Collaboration is the fuel of the future

12 January 2022

The focus is on the fossil-free shipping of the future. But to get there, a new fuel is needed. At DNV's webinar The fuel of the future, which was held on Tuesday, more than 5,000 participants learned that the fuel is spelled C-O-L-L-A-B-O-R-A-T-I-O-N. And across all borders.

As usual when major stakeholders in shipping arrange webinars, it all starts with yummy moving pictures and bloated music. The message is clear. “We have the power, we lead the work, we can. May the force be with us! ”. During his introductory speech, DNV's CEO Remy Eriksen quotes Nelson Mandela:

"If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. As we journey together down this difficult route, we can offer each other support and encouragement."

We can’t just focus on a single alternative fuel, continued Knut Ørbeck-Nilssen, CEO of DNV's maritime part.

"In order to achieve a truly sustainable shipping, we must instead collaborate. So what do I mean by that? Well, that actors from all disciplines, industries, countries work together to solve the biggest challenge of our time - climate change. This can’t be solved by shipping itself. The infrastructure, technology, energy solutions, regulations and financial support required are made possible only if everyone helps. No one can afford to ignore climate change.”

“This is not a competition. It's a rescue operation.”

Several of the speakers, all from different parts of the industry, reiterated that in the future a palette of different fuels will probably be needed and it will take time to get there. But even if it takes until after 2030 before any real fossil-free alternative exists, many shipowners will have to choose a route now because new ships will sail for more than 25 years. That is why hybrid development is important, said Søren Toft, CEO of MSC, who also emphasized that the fuels of the future will be much more expensive than today.

“To cover costs and to reduce the gap between fossil fuels and alternative fuels, we are in favor of introducing some form of carbon dioxide tax. We also support the proposal of a global research and development fund that should be administered within the IMO.”

It is easy to say that we must cooperate. But how to do it in practice? What do you collaborate on?

“I see mainly two areas. One concerns technology development. In order to find the solutions to the transition of shipping, actors both within and outside shipping must cooperate. For a study on the development of ammonia as a fuel, we engaged, for example, 21 different industry partners from the entire supply chain. Another example concerns the development of biofuels where there is great potential to collaborate with the aircraft industry”, said Professor Lynn Loo, CEO of the Global Center for Maritime Decarbonisation.

"The second area is about regulations. We must get together and with a single voice press for the IMO to reach a decision on the issue. Time is short."

What can you more specifically collaborate on? The webinar's concluding panel discussion gave a hint when moderator Julian Bray, editor-in-chief of TradeWinds, asked the question: "If you could give $ 100,000,000 to one or two projects, what would you invest in then?" Among the answers were demonstration projects on ammonia, carbon capture and storage, retrofit of existing vessels, wind and sails, research for an alternative to the internal combustion engine and pilot projects on the development of green corridors.

Watch the webinar

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