The Global Marine Technology Trends 2030

The report outlines the fundamental marine technology trends we can expect to see in the next 15 years. The aim is to help marine stakeholders understand the long-term challenges and opportunities that come with the rapid technological development.

It is predicted in the GMTT2030 (2015) that the marine world will be largely connected and digital in in the future. It also envisages that the marine technology of 2030 will combine developments from multiple scientific disciplines, leading to a transformation of the design, construction and operation of both commercial ships and ocean space systems.

A total of 56 potential technologies that could be developed and implemented around 2030 were examined. Those with the highest scores were selected for further analysis based on their commercial feasibility, potential marketability, and their transformational impact on commercial shipping and ocean space. For each sector, eight technologies were selected based on their transformational effects when used individually and when combined.  

GMTT2030 is a collaboration between Lloyd’s Register, QinetiQ and the University of Southampton. Horizon scanning has been used in order to predict the future, and the results are based on workshops, research, brainstorming sessions, and expert interviews.

Commercial shipping

For the commercial shipping sector, the following technologies were considered to be transformational:

  • Advanced materials
  • Big data analytics
  • Communication technologies
  • Propulsion and powering
  • Robotics
  • Sensors
  • Shipbuilding
  • Smart ship

Technology implementation is expected be at an optimal level by 2030. These ships are called TenchoMax and will be greener, smarter, and data driven. They will have flexible powering options, wireless connection, and digital connection through global satellites. The Technomax scenarios presented in the report are not concept ships but give an indication of the potential maximum technology uptake relevant to the vessels. In order to achieve this, major changes need to be done in terms of design, shipbuilding, operation, and supply chain management. Technologically-advanced shipbuilders will design the TechnoMax Ships, while ship owners will become more competitive and increase their corporate social responsibility considerably.

Ocean space

For the ocean space sector, the following technologies were considered transformational:

  • Advanced materials
  • Autonomous systems
  • Big data analytics
  • Carbon capture and storage
  • Deep ocean mining
  • Sensors and communication
  • Sustainable energy generation
  • Marine biotechnology

The use of these technologies will give us a deeper understanding of how the ocean space may help us tackle challenges related to climate change, the reduction of land-based resources, and a growing population. According to the report, these technologies can lead to better protection of the ocean environment and improve the lives of people living in coastal areas by protecting them from extreme natural forces. Since we will become more dependent on the ocean in the future, the implementation of the abovementioned technologies is considered vital for a sustainable harvest of the ocean resources.

The future of commercial shipping and ocean space

Assuming that the technologies of the two sectors will become affordable and implementable, the authors stress that a successful implementation will depend on a favourable regulatory framework, technical standardisation on a global scale and cooperation between marine stakeholders. It is therefore important that we start investing in capacity-building through the education and training of people working in these sectors. If the implementation of these technologies is successful, the two sectors have good reason to expect a sustainable, prosperous and secure future.

Full report: The Global Marine Technology Trends 2030

By Martine Farstad