According to Zane Berry from MCA Consulting, the main driver for change in vessel design and operation in the next decade will be the need for fuel optimization. There is little room for improvement in cargo capacity, so the focus will be on autonomous functions in navigation and other maritime activities. While there is still no silver bullet fuel solution, LNG is becoming more accepted as a transition fuel, with a global fleet of 251 LNG-fueled vessels in operation and 403 more on order. The existing infrastructure for LNG is attractive to owners, with significant investment in upstream and downstream projects.
The global LNG tanker fleet is also expanding, with 639 vessels currently in operation and 48 more to be added this year. While LNG as a ship’s fuel may not be the preferred choice for emissions reductions, pragmatists in the industry are willing to accept the 30% reductions it offers now. In addition to fuel choices, companies are also looking to optimize vessel operations and use smart technologies. Remote monitoring and intervention are already common, saving fuel and improving efficiency in various maritime activities.
While there may not be dramatic changes to vessels themselves by 2030, the management and support of vessels will see significant changes. Remote technologies are already providing options for fault diagnosis, inspections, and even training. By 2030, predictive monitoring technologies will likely replace periodic maintenance, allowing for parts to be replaced only when they are about to fail. These small steps, when applied globally, can lead to significant improvements over a ship’s lifecycle.
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