With much of the world in agreement that we need to reduce carbon emissions to below 1.5C, it is evident that shipping must decarbonize and switch to green fuels. Despite zero-carbon fuels such as methanol and ammonia being around the corner, they need further experimentation and are not yet commercially feasible. Decarbonization in shipping will require an approximate $1-1.9 trillion investment. This will enable the infrastructure to produce hydrogen, which can be utilized to make ammonia, which is regarded as the superior of the three future fuels.
However, as the shift to alternative fuels is a difficult and slow process, shipping companies must find innovative solutions to reduce short-term carbon emissions. By optimizing their routes through the use of software, metal sails, and other technologies, these companies are improving their efficiency and reducing their reliance on fossil fuels.
These temporary solutions are shaped by recently introduced regulations from the UN body responsible for shipping, the International Maritime Organization (IMO), and the European Union (EU). This has led to demands for carbon-slashing solutions already available, such as wind-assisted technology. Retrofitting ships with automated retractable steel and metal sails can conserve up to 20% of fuel on a transatlantic voyage. The sails use route-planning software that optimizes the use of wind, retracting them when wind speed either becomes excessive or weak. Additionally, software is being developed to forecast daily carbon emissions reports.
It is vital to take short-term solutions that enhance efficiency to reduce emissions to match 1.5C-aligned decarbonization. This idea is supported by Tristan Smith, an expert in shipping and energy at University College London’s Energy Institute, who believes that over the next decade, current technologies and upgrades will play a vital role in making the shipping industry more sustainable.
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