Number of Zero Emission Shipping Projects Nearly Doubled in Past Year

zero emission shipping demonstration and pilot projects
Momentum is building in the efforts to develop zero emission shipping (file photo)

Published Mar 31, 2022 5:41 PM by The Maritime Executive

With the continuing global attention on the steps required to achieve decarbonization, momentum is building on developing the solutions required for zero-emission shipping. A new report from the Getting to Zero Coalition mapping pilot projects and demonstrations reports that the number of initiatives has nearly doubled in the past year with the strongest growth coming in Asia. The report finds that coalitions, cooperation, and public funding are emerging in support of the efforts, but that there continue to be challenges to involving charters and shippers.

The report entitled Mapping of Zero Emission Pilots and Demonstration Projects seeks to identify and track the status of efforts focusing on zero-emission pathways for the maritime industry. The study covers projects focused on ship technology and fuel production, as well as bunkering and infrastructure. The projects are categorized based on their focus, geographical focus, type of project, fuel choice, size and type of vessel, the technology used, the existence of public funding, and the parts of the value chain represented by project partners.

“Almost all projects included in the mapping study involve multiple stakeholders and parts of the value chain,” says Jesse Fahnestock, Head of Research and Analysis at the Global Maritime Forum. “Nonetheless, it remains challenging for projects to establish all the necessary links, such as those to charterers and cargo owners, in the context of a pilot or demonstration. This reinforces the need for Green Corridors to help build those connections.”

The Getting to Zero Coalition launched the comprehensive mapping effort in August 2020 seeking to identify all the projects currently underway for the maritime sector. The goal was to provide an overview of the projects and demonstrations planned to catalyze efforts and encourage better cooperation.

“The third edition of the mapping includes significantly more projects – up from 106 to 203 – focusing on ship technologies, fuel production as well as bunkering and infrastructure,” said the Getting to Zero Coalition. “We hope that by continuing to develop a better understanding of the scale and diversity of zero-emission pilots and demonstration projects already underway, the mapping can continue to raise ambition in working towards a transition to zero-emission fuels for the maritime industry.”

Some of the key findings in this year’s mapping include an increased focus on hydrogen-derived fuels, a higher number of large vessels targeting ammonia and methanol, more bunkering and infrastructure projects, as well as the emergence of fuel production in Oceania. The report highlights that nearly two-thirds of the projects include a focus on ship technology. A third of the project include a focus on fuel production, while 19 percent include a focus on bunkering and infrastructure.

“Electricity-derived fuels, particularly hydrogen and ammonia are increasingly taking a larger share of the industry’s focus, with 42 of the fuel production projects involving so-called “Green Hydrogen” based on electrolysis,” said Jesse Fahnestock.

Most of the projects they are tracking in the mapping, 114, have a connection to Europe. However, the most significant development since the last edition of the mapping according to the authors is that the number of Asian projects doubled from 31 to 61, with most taking place in Japan and China. North America currently lags with just 13 projects in the mapping.

Bunkering and infrastructure projects and fuel production projects are more likely to receive public funding than projects focused on ship technology. When it comes to fuel focus, hydrogen and battery power projects attract the most public funding, the mapping reports.

The authors are encouraged by the growing momentum in the pilots and demonstrations. They note that 60 of the projects in the mapping were initiated during 2020 while 86 of the projects included were initiated during 2021 and Q1 2022. Since the second edition of the report which was issued a year ago, they note that more than 20 percent of the projects have publicly announced that they are developing or continuing into a new project phase. These developments include moving from a concept study to a demonstration in normal operations, receiving Approval in Principle (AiP), signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), receiving funding, or adding new partners to the project.