The drive for a cleaner and greener maritime sector presents huge opportunities for the UK to become a world leader in innovative, climate-friendly maritime technologies and services, with the UK Department of Transport seeking to introduce zero-emission vessels (ZEVs) by 2025, well ahead of the 2030 requirement under the International Maritime Organization’s 2050 Greenhouse Gas ambition.

Speaking at the July 11 launch of the UK Department for Transport’s Clean Maritime Plan, which is described as the ‘Environment Route Map of the Maritime 2050 Strategic Vision’, Maritime Minister Nusrat Ghani MP said research suggests that by 2030 the market for alternative fuel production technologies could be worth £11 billion globally and the UK itself could capture £510 million.

However, “if we are to capture our share of that grow market, we need to act now”, Ghani said.

 “It's clear that we need to go further and faster if we are to position the UK at the forefront of clean maritime technology. The Clean Maritime Plan lays out our roadmap for getting there, setting out clear ambitions and when we expect to reach them.”

Maritime 2050, published in January 2019, sets out the UK government’s ambition for zero-emission vessels to be commonplace globally by 2050 and under the Clean Maritime Plan, the UK expects that by 2025 all new vessels being ordered for use in UK waters are designed with zero-emission propulsion capability.

Furthermore, by 2025 the plan expects that zero-emission commercial vessels will be in full operation in UK waters and that the UK will be building clean maritime clusters focused on innovation and infrastructure associated with zero-emission propulsion technologies, including the bunkering of low or zero-emission fuel.

Speaking at the launch, Sarah Kenny, Vice Chair of Maritime UK and CEO of BMT Technologies, said the UK first’s green maritime plan “marks an important step towards achieving a zero-emission maritime future for the UK. Getting to net zero will of course not be easy but with this challenge comes significant opportunity and commercial advantages for our £40 billion maritime sector.”

Baroness Bryony Worthington, Executive Director of the Environmental Defence Fund Europe, stressed shipping should be at the forefront of developing new markets with alternative fuels and zero propulsion systems for all of transport.

“It is a sector which is pragmatic and practical, full of engineering excellence, and likes to get the job done. And I think that's the spirit we need to harness as we head towards our net zero targets for 2050,” Worthington added.

Welcoming the publication of the Clean Maritime Plan, Lloyd’s Register CEO Alastair Marsh said, “Climate change is one of the greatest challenges for the safety of our world.  All participants in the maritime value chain must collaborate to accelerate the transition to low, or no, carbon operating models.”

In partnership with and University Maritime Advisory Services (UMAS), LR has been assessing ways in which m can address the IMO’s 2050 Greenhouse Gas ambition with its recent study – Zero-Emission Vessels: Transition Pathways.

LR has played a key role in moving the maritime industry towards a decarbonised future, from becoming a strategic partner and Advisory Council member of the Global Maritime Forum (GMF), a founding member of the UN Global Compact Sustainable Business Action Platform and a World Economic Forum Friend of Ocean Action. Alastair Marsh also signed the GMF’s call for action in support of decarbonisation last year.

LR has paved the way for clean fuel projects, including classing Compagnie Maritime Belge’s first hydrogen-powered vessel, a project that primarily tested hydrogen technology for applications on larger vessels.