A sustainable marine transport sector

Projektarbete, avancerad nivå
Alvelid, Carl
Schmidt, Daniel
Ljunge, Jonna
Gutke, Julia
Pai, Rahul Rajendra
Muthukrishnan, Shruthik Krishnan
In today’s highly globalised world, marine transport accounts for an important mode of travel as well as a key means of enabling transcontinental trade. There is an urgent need for a shift towards a more sustainable marine sector as the demand for at sea transport and shipping increases annually with rising levels of harmful emissions as a result. Moreover, the future of the fossil fuels currently employed for marine vessel propulsion is most unclear. The widely used Heavy Fuel Oil might become subject to highly volatile pricing as the global market moves towards reducing its fossil dependence. Also, stricter emission norms intended to bring the marine transport sector closer to the legislative levels already developed in land-based transportation are to be expected. This report introduces and discusses a selection of emissions-reducing measures which could contribute to a more sustainable marine transport sector, namely, biofuels, solar panels and electrification, hydrogen, fuel cells, methanol, speed reductions and wind power. Ultimately, wind power is chosen as a final suggestion with respect to lowering marine emissions. Wind is a free, renewable, and abundant form of energy especially suitable for marine transport and its extraction for marine vessel propulsion does not induce resource scarcity in other sectors. Biofuels are more expensive than the current fuels in use and pose environmental and ethical dilemmas related to land use change with the potential of creating distributional conflicts. When compared to other options, fully wind powered ships have the unparalleled benefit of zero emissions in theory. In contrast to solar power, wind power alone is sufficient for vessel propulsion although there is need for alternative methods if the wind direction and magnitude does not meet the requirements. Electric vessels struggle with low energy density in batteries and a complete lack of charging infrastructure, only permitting shorter voyages inadequate for meeting the demand for worldwide transport. Hydrogen fuels cause a considerable loss of usable shipping volume, and thus profit, due to its low volumetric density. Finally, from a stakeholder perspective it is argued that although initial investments may be high due to re-equipping or replacing of ships, wind power is a viable economic solution long-term as the “fuel” is inherently abundant and free. Also, a zero-emissions option like wind power is likely to be favourable in the eyes of authorities which are able to introduce policy instruments supporting the transition to a wind-powered marine future.
Marine transport, Shipping, Emissions reduction, Pollution, Sustainable transportation
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