Alternative Fuel Prospects and Challenges in the Marine Industry

Alternative Fuel Prospects and Challenges in the Marine Industry

Posted on Sep 22, 2023 at 01:09 AM

Digitalisation and automation are revolutionising the maritime sector by introducing new technologies that enhance safety, security, efficiency, and performance, minimise environmental impact, and ensure sustainability.

The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has prioritised safety since 1948, continuously evolving its regulatory framework to accommodate new technologies and innovations.  "Navigating the future: safety first!" is the IMO's 2024 World Maritime Theme, culminating in celebrating World Maritime Day on September 26, 2024.

Consequently, due to the growing threat of climate change, the marine sector is placing an increasing emphasis on the search for sustainable and renewable energy sources, which has a variety of implications for cost control and logistical operations.

The industry is currently utilising and exploring significant technological advancements for potential future applications:

  • Batteries

Unquestionably, an all-electric vessel has the potential to assist the environment since it can remove emissions of carbon dioxide and other air pollutants.

The maritime sector is facing a turning point, with shipowners demanding better alternatives from shipyards and battery integrators while new technologies promote electrification.


  • Systems for Cleaning Exhaust Gases

Maritime decarbonisation involves adopting alternative marine fuels like LNG, LBG, hydrogen, HVO, electricity, nuclear energy for commerce ships, and alternative energy sources.

The exhaust gas cleaning system (EGCSs), also known as scrubbers, is a widely recognized alternative technology in sustainable transportation.

EU regulations allow scrubbers as an alternative to low-sulfur marine fuels, with 3,440 ships globally equipped as of June 15, 2020.

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  • Design of a Ship

Shipping, responsible for 90% of trade, has the lowest environmental impact. Improving ship safety and reducing GHG emissions is crucial for a sustainable marine sector. The IMO established two energy efficiency requirements for ships in 2011, focusing on enhancing operation and design to reduce GHG emissions.

The study uses the legal analysis approach to critically assess the international legal framework for alternative fuel-powered ships, highlighting potential dangers like fuel leaks, fires, and flaws.


  • The Role of EMSA in Emerging Technologies

To aid in the discussion and development of policies around new technologies and sustainability in the marine industry, the European Maritime Safety Agency EMSA has conducted several significant studies, including those on the use of fuel cells in shipping and electrical energy storage on ships.



As the IMO works to ensure the safety and efficiency of shipping are maintained and possibly improved so that the flow of seaborne international trade continues to be smooth and efficient, this theme would allow us to focus on the full range of safety regulatory implications arising from new and adapted technologies, the introduction of alternative fuels, and measures to reduce GHG emissions from ships, among other things.

The maritime transportation industry is becoming more sustainable thanks to various alternative technologies. Technology plays a crucial role in reducing the many environmental stresses that transportation places on the environment, both onboard and ashore.


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