On the 14th of May, CSHIPP organised its first ever webinar focusing on the business potential in clean shipping. The event, which was hosted by Maritime Development Center and Tallinn University of Technology, raised a lot of interest with nearly 110 registered participants. According to original plans, the event was supposed to take place in conjunction of The Danish Maritime Fair. However, due to the on-going situation with coronavirus, the event was transferred online and this proved to be a very good way to reach an even wider audience.

As noted by Mr. Jan Boyesen (Head of Projects, Maritime Development Center) in the introduction to the webinar, the ambitious targets set for maritime industry to reduce harmful emissions and the growing demand for clean shipping solutions demonstrate that the industry needs to change its ways of operating. With this in mind, the event was organised to provide insight into the environmental impacts of shipping, the business opportunities provided by clean shipping solutions as well as the ways in which the transition towards environmentally and economically sustainable shipping can be supported.

Collaboration as a catalyst for environmentally and economically sustainable shipping

The first speaker of the event was Mr. Kasper Søgaard (Head of Research, Global Maritime Forum) who discussed the role of collaboration as a catalyst for commercially viable clean shipping based on the experiences of Getting to Zero Coalition. The Coalition is an alliance of over 90 companies from the maritime, energy, infrastructure and finance sectors. Its work is also supported by various governments and intergovernmental organisation. The ultimate goal of the Coalition is to get commercially viable deep sea zero emission vessels powered by zero emission fuels into operation by 2030. According to Mr. Søgaard, collaboration between the different sectors is crucial in reaching the goal as collaboration makes it possible to address shared challenges, break down silos and bring all the right stakeholders together to define clear objectives and ambitious goals, co-create solutions and hammer out the details so that the outcomes work in practice.

Mr. Søgaard also discussed the importance of having appropriate frameworks for supporting responsible decision-making. One such tool is the Poseidon Principles framework for responsible ship finance. The framework assesses and discloses the climate alignment of financial institutions’ shipping portfolios. In essence, the Principles establish a common, global baseline to quantitatively assess and disclose whether financial institutions’ lending portfolios are in line with adopted climate goals.

Sustainable business models for clean shipping

The second session of the event focused on sustainable business models for clean shipping. According to the speaker Prof. Dr. Gunnar Prause (Tallinn University of Technology) there is currently no actual consensus on the best business model for realising the transition towards clean shipping. The reasons behind this vary but one of the dilemmas in clean shipping investment is that, on the one hand, ship owners face a variety of different compliance options and have to make decisions about the optimal abatement technologies in which to invest. On the other hand, fuel producers are also faced with the decisions linked to high investments and financial risks, as they need to make a choice between centralised and decentralised desulphurisation options.

According to professor Prause, the focus on clean shipping investments should be on ship design, onshore power supply for ports, renewable sources of energy and GHG emission reductions.  He also noted that new business models are likely to emerge as a result of ongoing development and new innovations.

Clean shipping through digitalisation of operations and processes

The final session of the event gave insights into three industry cases which utilise digital tools and solutions to facilitate eco-efficient shipping and maritime industry processes. The cases focus on digital performance monitoring, integrated logistics and cargo stowage and they feature Island Ferries, DFDS and J. Lauritzen as case companies. The cases are an essential part of the work done in CSHIPP partner project ECOPRODIGI. The preliminary results of the cases were presented by ECOPRODIGI partners Mr. Niels Gorm Malý Rytter (Head of Section, University of Southern Denmark) and Mr. Mads Billesø (Senior Project Manager, Innovation and Partnerships, DFDS) who discussed the potential digital solutions provide for improving operational efficiency and reducing emissions. According to Mr. Rytter and Mr. Billesø, digitalisation of industry processes can be beneficial not only for the climate and environment, but also for the shipping companies themselves as eco-efficiency gains will mean savings in costs and resources. However, any potential return on investment depends on various issues such as choosing a suitable strategy and providing sufficient training for those working with the new solutions.

Future of clean shipping in the midst of  COVID-19

The event provided a good opportunity for the speakers and the participants to discuss and take part in a poll on the potential implications of the coronavirus for the transition towards sustainable shipping. Many agreed that, at least in the short term, COVID-19 is very likely to delay many of the investments needed to make real progress in clean shipping. However, many were also of the opinion that despite the economic slowdown the current situation has also increased interest in fostering future growth and development that is based on environmentally sound technologies and resources. Responding to the challenges of climate change was generally seen as something that cannot be put on hold and this is likely to be reflected also in future investments and business opportunities.

Should you wish to learn more about what went on at the webinar, a recording of the event is available here (log in with your name and email).

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