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Inevitable Challenges: The Path to Decarbonizing Maritime Transport

At the DNV Maritime Energy Summit held on February 8, Knut Ørbeck-Nilssen, CEO of DNV Maritime, emphasized the urgency of decarbonizing maritime transport. With the International Maritime Organization (IMO) setting more ambitious goals last summer, the sector faces a 20% reduction in emissions by 2030, 70% by 2040, and complete decarbonization around 2050. The recent implementation of the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) further raises the stakes.

Ørbeck-Nilssen warns that the supply of alternative and carbon-neutral fuels is nowhere near reaching the levels needed to meet short-term emission reduction targets. DNV estimates that the global maritime transport sector will need 30-40% of the global supply of carbon-neutral fuels to achieve the IMO goal for 2030, a prospect he deems highly improbable.

Despite this concern, there is promising growth in the construction and adaptation of vessels capable of using alternative fuels. Interest in biofuels is encouraging, but to reach the IMO’s 2030 goals without low or zero-carbon fuels, the industry will need to take energy efficiency measures. Fortunately, there are several promising options under consideration.

Eirik Nyhus of DNV underscores the magnitude of the challenge for 2030, noting that “there are only six years left.” Now, the goal is for 5% of the energy used by maritime transport to come from zero or nearly zero-emission fuels. The IMO proposes new measures starting in 2027, including the introduction of a greenhouse gas (GHG) intensity standard and some form of carbon pricing.

In conclusion, with the inclusion of maritime transport in the EU ETS, already in effect, and the FuelEU Maritime regulation, effective from 2025, which will assess emissions from extraction to use, there will be a definite push toward adopting alternative fuels. Ørbeck-Nilssen and Nyhus emphasize that current and future regulatory measures will require inevitable changes in business models, marking this decade as “impactful.”

Source: Information based on statements by Knut Ørbeck-Nilssen and Eirik Nyhus at the DNV Maritime Energy Summit