UK plans for zero-emission ships by 2025

UK plans for zero-emission ships by 2025

An ambitious plan set out by the United Kingdom to cut pollution from the country’s maritime sector has called for zero-emission capable ships to be operating in UK waters by 2025.

The Clean Maritime Plan published this week outlines the commitment and ways the government plans to incentivise the transition to zero-emission shipping.

To achieve this target of zero-emission capable ships by 2025, the Clean Maritime Plan suggests a variety of different fuels and technologies should be used for propulsion, including methanol, hydrogen, biofuels, fully electric and hybrid propulsion, wind propulsion, solar power and a combination of vessel optimisation such as trim optimisation hull scrubbing, and air lubrication.

The Plan highlights the need for a coordinated approach across government, industry and academia. It suggests that action needs to be taken quickly, that the UK needs to be bold and position itself as a world leader in thinking and action on minimising environmental impacts of the maritime sector. Prioritising interventions which benefit the UK, addressing market failures and amplifying investment in areas where the UK has potential comparative strengths is also deemed important to meet the 2025 target. In addition, support for investment in the transition to green shipping to reduce the business risk, maintenance of a level playing field, and a whole-systems approach are stated as vital steps to achieving the 2025 vision.

“Our maritime sector is vital to the success of the UK’s economy, but it must do everything it can to reduce emissions, improve air quality and tackle climate change,” said maritime minister Nusrat Ghani.

The maritime sector has already taken significant strides to reduce emissions – hybrid ferries are already being used in UK waters, including in the Scottish islands and on cross-Solent journeys to the Isle of Wight. The Port of London Authority – where the Maritime Minister launched the Plan – also uses hybrid vessels.

In September 2019, the Government is expected to launch a ‘Greening Finance/Financing Green’ for Maritime Initiative. The plan will be for the Government to work in partnership with the British banking sector to encourage the provision of finance towards zero emission shipping technology development and manufacturing.

Sarah Kenny, chief executive of BMT Group and representing the Mari-UK consortium, commented: “The Clean Maritime Plan is an important step towards achieving a zero-emission future for the UK. Getting to net zero will not be easy, but it will present significant opportunities as well as the obvious challenges for all parts of our £40bn maritime sector. Maritime is already the greenest way of moving freight, but we can and must do more to reduce emissions.

“The key ingredient to realising our clean maritime ambitions is collaboration. Between companies, academia and with government. Today’s plan and government’s broader Maritime 2050 strategy, crafted with Maritime UK, provides a framework to do just that.”

The plan also includes a £1 million competition to find innovative ways to reduce maritime emissions and is published alongside a call for evidence to reduce emissions on UK waterways and domestic vessels.

Guidance has also today been issued to ports to assist them in developing air quality strategies. This will both address their own operations and support improving air quality across the country.

Tim Morris, chief executive of the UK Major Ports Group and member of the Clean Maritime Council, said: “The Clean Maritime Plan is a really valuable piece of work, setting out an ambitious path forward for the transformation of the maritime sector in the UK. It doesn’t shy away from the scale or complexity of the challenge of such a transformation. But it’s a transformation that the ports industry, along with the rest of the maritime sector and working in partnership with Government and other stakeholders, is determined to take on.”

The Clean Maritime Plan is part of the Government’s Clean Air Strategy, which aims to cut down air pollution across all sectors to protect public health and the environment. It will also help deliver the UK’s commitment to be net zero on greenhouse gases by 2050.

A further consultation to increase the uptake of low carbon fuels will also take place next year.

The Clean Maritime Plan can be downloaded here.