Maritime energy transition, what are the challenges?

The positive transformation of the maritime sector is a priority, mobilising the industry as a whole. At Airseas, we are tackling this challenge head high. Our goal? To unleash the full potential of wind: an essential, clean, renewable and accessible energy.

Today, more than 100,000 ships sail worldwide, representing more than 235 million tonnes of fuel consumed yearly.

Fossil fuels, a planned obsolescence

Sunset on a sea of oil.

In the face of the climate emergency, societal pressure and regulatory developments point to a new direction: a low-carbon future, less dependent on fossil fuels. In June 2021, the IMO* adopted short-term measures to reduce the carbon intensity of all ships by 40% by 2030, compared to 2008: a strong signal and a major challenge.

Ships will therefore have to estimate two key indicators:

  • The Existing Vessel Energy Efficiency Index (EEXI), determining their energy efficiency,
  • The annual operational carbon intensity indicator (CII) and their CII rating.

Carbon intensity correlates GHG emissions to the amount of cargo transported with the distance travelled.
Highlighting the environmental performance of fleets is a powerful signal to all stakeholders (financiers, insurers, certifying organisations, etc.): a guideline combined with a timeline.

*The International Maritime Organization is the United Nations’ dedicated organization responsible for ensuring the safety and security of shipping and preventing pollution of the seas by ships.

“The ecological transition of our industry depends on our ability to make our voice heard and to share information, including with public authorities. This is how we can reinforce accountability and efforts driven by committed transport operators“.

Stéphanie Lesage – Corporate Secretary, Airseas

Who is the IMO?

The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) is the United Nations organisation responsible for ensuring the safety and security of shipping and preventing marine pollution from ships.

Alternative fuels: a dilemma for the shipping sector

On the Ville de Bordeaux vessel

With regulations putting pressure to gradually move away from fossil fuels, alternative fuel solutions are emerging, with contrasting results. LNG, methanol, hydrogen, green ammonia, each source can limit CO2 emissions. However, the analysis of their life cycles highlights two significant issues: fuel production and cost.

These solutions have a sustainable future only if their production becomes sustainable. As it stands, the responsible production of hydrogen, for example, remains a significant challenge. On the other hand, a whole impressive supply chain will be mobilised, involving staggering transport and storage and, therefore, carbon emission costs.

Airseas – driving change beyond our walls

Our company actively participates in various clusters to bring its knowledge, highlight its disruptive technologies and share best practices with all the actors of our industrial ecosystem.

Airseas is a member of IWSA (International Windship Association):

an association for the promotion of wind propulsion for maritime commerce.

Airseas is a member of RESPECTOCEAN:

a network of actors committed to sustainable economic development in favour of the ocean.

Airseas is a member of the STEERER committee:

STEERER (Structuring Towards Zero Emission Waterborne Transport) coordinates the establishment and communication of a Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda and an Implementation Plan towards zero-emission waterborne transport.

The wind: a great source of energy and hope for the decarbonisation of the maritime sector

Seawing flight

The potential of wind is enormous. It is a free energy source available anywhere and comparatively inexpensive to convert into propulsion energy.

Whether retrofitted or used on new ships, wind propulsion has so much potential that the European Union commissioned a report in 2016 that envisaged installing 3,000 to 10,000 systems by 2030.

In 2019, the UK Department for Transport reported that 40-45% of the world’s fleet could be equipped with marine propulsion solutions by 2050.

Source : Bell M. et al., Reducing the maritime sector’s contribution to climate change and air pollution, Economic opportunities from low and zero emission shipping. A report for the Department for Transport, Frontier Economics, July 2019.

Europe and France: a leadership to foster to tackle climate change

The technology is there. And available. There are about thirty developers worldwide – mostly start-ups – approximately ten in France. Local production represents a major opportunity: making Europe a leading ecosystem for new mobilities within the commercial maritime industry. Airseas is committed to making it happen and strives to promote its expertise in propulsion, locally and overseas.