Navigating Towards Cleaner Maritime Shipping - Lessons From the Nordic Region

Navigating Towards Cleaner Maritime Shipping analyses future energy use in the Nordic shipping sector, and outlines potential solutions that could help the region respond to the imperatives of energy diversification, the reduction of local pollutants and the abatement of greenhouse gas emissions. It also looks at available technologies and outlines technical and financial barriers to their widespread adoption.

The Nordic region is already at the forefront of innovation in green maritime technology, and will play a key role in ensuring cleaner maritime shipping globally. In addition to energy efficiency, low-carbon fuels/energy vectors  are needed to decarbonise the maritime sector. The report believes the most promising options will be Biofuels, electricity, hydrogen, synthetic hydrocarbons and ammonia f produced with low-carbon energy and renewable carbon. On the contrary, Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) or methanol (when produced using fossil fuels) do not deliver significantly lower GHG emissions than conventional marine fuels. Since current policies focus on direct CO2 emissions and do not account for other GHG emissions such as methane or emissions from upstream fuel production, this creates inappropriate advantages for fuels such as fossil LNG.

The report underlines that adoption of alternative fuels will require close cooperation throughout supply chains between shipowners, operators, ports, fuel producers and distributors as well as legislators. Political tools are also important to stimulate green maritime technologies, and the report has identified six recommendations:

  • Leverage public sector procurement to stimulate the electrification of short-distance shipping
  • Increase the energy efficiency of new and existing ships
  • Introduce regulations on lifecycle emissions of maritime fuels
  • Put in place carbon pricing for shipping and policies that can reduce the carbon content of shipping fuels
  • Advance the discussion on market-based mechanisms at the International Maritime Organization
  • Launch pilot projects to gain experience with new fuels and accelerate the adoption of safety guidelines

This study is part of the ITF Decarbonising Transport Initiative (DTI).

By Anna Lygre Solvang