Industry News, Marine Treatments

Op-Ed: Reducing emissions is job one for maritime


In April 2018, the International Maritime Organization agreed on its first ambitious strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the international shipping sector to meet the Paris Agreement goals.

The strategy included a target to reduce carbon emission by at least 50% compared with 2008 levels by 2050. But, experts agree that can be a difficult goal to achieve for two reasons: 1. The maritime sector is notorious for imposing significant barriers to innovation, and 2. The “green energy” needed to operate ships and ports at net-zero levels is still far from within our grasp.

However, despite the resistance to new technologies, there are a few lights on the horizon.

In March 2022, the U.S. Department of Energy and the Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) hosted an informational webinar that ran through some of the progress that had been made to that point in the development of sustainable marine fuels and fuel additives. In the webinar, they highlighted the following pros and cons:

  • While there have been positive advancements in the development and availability of biodiesels and renewable diesels that could significantly reduce carbon impact, they are only part of the solution. What remains are land-use, cost and availability risks that remain for the category, resulting in slow industry buy-in.
  • Smaller vessels can chip away at emissions by switching to hydrogen or electric power, but we are years away from optimizing those technologies.

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