Decarbonising the maritime sector is a complex task that demands a clear strategy. This article breaks down the challenge into three key areas: the operation, the asset, and the human element. A successful decarbonisation strategy will find solutions to a range of problems. Ship operations and management is a complex industrial sector, so it helps to group problems and their respective solutions into categories.
Three domain areas – the operation, the asset, and the human element – are useful groupings for maritime decarbonisation. These can be likened to three drawers in a toolbox, where each drawer contains specialist tools for a given application. Where a real toolbox might contain mechanical, electrical, and carpentry tools, the decarbonisation toolbox contains tools for decarbonising ship operations, the fabric of the ship as an asset, and the human element which forms the connective tissue between asset and operation. Let’s explore each domain in turn.
Transition Domain 1: Operation
Maritime operations are naturally carbon intensive. Making maritime operations more efficient and thus conserving wasted energy and ultimately saving fuel, is a powerful way of decarbonising the global merchant fleet. A deep dive on the operation domain can be found here.
Transition Domain 2 – The Ship
How ships are operated is evidently of great importance to how efficient they are, but so too is their intrinsic, or “design”, efficiency. The design, construction, and propulsion methods embedded in the fabric of a ship are pivotal to what levels of efficiency can be achieved. A deep dive on the ship domain can be found here.
Transition Domain 3: Human Element
The Decarbonisation Toolkit report establishes that the best in class maritime energy transition strategies will apply solutions to both the operational elements of their business, and ships as assets. But the connection between them is people and therefore it is the human element that makes up the third and final transition domain. A deep dive on the human element can be found here.
Without people who are empowered with the knowledge to manage change through digitally-enabled data-driven inquiry and action, and bought into the why as well as the how of decarbonisation, technologies designed to improve assets and operations will be seriously hindered, if not negated altogether.
Understanding maritime decarbonisation is about addressing each of its three main areas effectively. While the operation and design of ships are crucial, it’s the people involved who bridge these components. Their knowledge, commitment, and understanding of the broader goal of decarbonisation are vital. With a focus on these three domains, we can make informed steps towards a more sustainable maritime industry.