First-of-its-kind study highlights the potential impact of green shipping corridors through case studies of illustrative fuel production pathways at three Canadian ports – Vancouver, Prince Rupert, and Halifax.

A new study from global sustainable development consultancy Arup, in partnership with Lloyd’s Register (LR) Maritime Decarbonization Hub, demonstrates the many benefits that Canada could obtain from investing in infrastructure that would enable the uptake of low and zero emissions shipping fuels.

As Canada faces an unprecedented wildfire season, the urgent need for climate action has become increasingly clear. Decarbonizing the shipping sector, which is responsible for about 3 percent of emissions globally, represents an important step towards achieving a sustainable future. However, knowing the best way to start this process remains a challenge.

That’s why a first-of-its-kind study, The Canadian Green Shipping Corridor Assessment, was commissioned by Oceans North, a charity that supports marine conservation and climate action in partnership with Indigenous and coastal communities, and the Vancouver Maritime Centre for Climate. Using case studies, it shows how investing in low and zero emissions fuel infrastructure to create green shipping corridors, shipping routes which deploy low– and zero-emissions vessels, involving Canadian ports is key to decarbonising the maritime sector. Coordinated action surrounding such corridors will help show the viability of low and zero emissions fuels in the short term, laying the groundwork for their use to be scaled up across the industry.

The study created examples of illustrative fuel production pathways for three Canadian ports: Vancouver, Prince Rupert, and Halifax. The potential development of low and zero-emission fuel uptake across different scenarios was analysed by the LR Maritime Decarbonisation Hub to estimate the size, type and cost of the infrastructure required.

As British Columbia has one of the lowest carbon intensity grids in the world, there is a significant opportunity to produce low carbon fuels such as hydrogen and bio-fuels. The study finds that a 200ktpa green methanol plant in the Port of Vancouver has the capacity to meet 2040 energy demands. It also finds that a carbon capture and storage enabled ammonia plant would be able to meet 2040 energy demands in the Port of Prince Rupert. In Nova Scotia, the significant offshore wind energy capacity is expected to position the province as a major exporter for low or zero emission fuels. The study finds that a capital investment of up to $500m at the Port of Halifax could allow it to serve as a central hub for supporting and distributing sustainable ammonia-based fuel from large production facilities elsewhere in Nova Scotia.

The investment case for these fuel supply chain projects is made in the report by using Arup’s “Total Value” framework. This demonstrates wider value through the four lenses of natural, economic, financial and social benefits to show that, by taking advantage of its abundant natural and human resources, Canada could become key to eliminating greenhouse gas emissions from maritime transport. This would support the objectives set out in its 2030 Emission Reduction plan, and benefit communities near the ports involved.

Additionally, there are significant economic benefits to investment in sustainable infrastructure. These include helping to minimise the climate transition risk in Canada’s energy and transport sectors, as well as future-proofing jobs and enabling economic growth. Furthermore, it would create opportunities to decarbonise road transport, rail, shipping, aviation and other fuel-consuming sectors by identifying demand aggregation opportunities and unlocking economies of scale.  

Jo Balmer, Americas Maritime Business Leader, Arup, said: “Applying Arup’s holistic value framework to green shipping corridors in Canada will be vital to demonstrating how infrastructure for low and zero emissions shipping fuels can deliver benefits to regenerating nature and supporting local communities.”

Ginger Garte, Environmental and Sustainability Director, Americas, Lloyd’s Register, said: “Canada has the mindset, talent, and renewable energy landscape to build a coalition that demonstrates zero-emission shipping. We must now unite stakeholders across the entire port supply chain with green shipping corridors - acting as catalysts to eliminate challenges and develop resilient infrastructure blueprints that optimize the co-benefits of Canada’s unique geology.”

Brent Dancey, Director of Marine Climate Action, Oceans North, said: "To ensure a livable climate future, we need to reduce emissions as much and as fast as possible across all industries,” says. “Green shipping corridors are an important step towards decarbonizing the maritime sector, and this report shows Canada could be a leader in this space. It’s up to partners across the port supply chain as well as governments to make good on this opportunity and ensure that the fuels of the future meet the highest global standards for emission reductions.”  

Elisabeth Charmley, Executive Director, VMCC, said: “Green shipping corridors present a unique opportunity to drive sustainable climate action on a regional scale, in partnership with likeminded individuals in another port city. As the gateway to the Pacific Northwest, and home to Canada’s largest port, B.C. is ideally positioned to take a leadership role in decarbonizing shipping through supply of future fuels and the technology needed to take green shipping corridors from concept to reality. This study is an important first step in understanding key barriers and opportunities associated with corridor implementation and maps out possibilities for success.”

Read the full report here