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Carbon Capture, New Fuels, and Energy Efficiency: ABS Research Points the Way to Net Zero by 2050

The latest research from the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) has charted a course towards achieving net-zero emissions in the maritime industry by 2050. Titled Beyond the Horizon: View of the Emerging Value Chains, the report, unveiled during the ABS Sustainability Summit at the London International Shipping Week, delves deep into the carbon, ammonia, and hydrogen value chains. It emphatically emphasizes the urgent need for increased investment in carbon capture technology, energy efficiency, and innovative fuels to meet the ambitious 2050 target.

Christopher J. Wiernicki, the Chairman and CEO of ABS, emphasized, “Our findings show there is a significant amount of work to be done between now and 2050 if we hope to hit net zero. But crucially, our research shows it can be done, and maps out a pathway for the industry to get there.” To achieve net zero, a dual approach is imperative. Firstly, energy efficiency technologies must reduce aggregate fuel consumption by 15 percent across existing and newbuild vessels. Secondly, carbon capture needs to be implemented across a substantial portion of the oil-burning fleet, resulting in a remarkable 70 percent reduction in onboard CO2 emissions. For those unable to adopt carbon capture, a shift to e-diesel or zero-carbon biofuels is imperative.

While vessels with conventional single-fuel engines will still be constructed for the next decade, retrofitting with energy-saving and carbon capture technologies will be pivotal for the industry to meet its targets. The report also sheds light on the challenges and opportunities of adopting alternative fuels and underscores the need for shipowners to secure their future fuel supply chain.

The ABS Outlook asserts that the maritime industry is not a passive observer but a central facilitator in the global green energy revolution. It underscores the industry’s significance in bridging gaps between production, storage, and consumption of carbon, ammonia, and hydrogen as cargo.

Moreover, the report models scenarios illustrating the impact of global decarbonization on seaborne trade, potentially reshaping the composition of the global fleet. Although the transition to low-carbon and ultimately net-zero operations demands substantial investment, the long-term benefits are manifold, including reduced fuel consumption, lower emissions, enhanced asset values, and streamlined regulatory compliance.

Given the unique characteristics of alternative fuels under consideration, the report underscores the necessity for evolving safety protocols, robust procedures, and comprehensive seafarer training.

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