New GMF report highlights strong collaborative approach in maritime decarbonisation pilot projects

The fourth edition of the Global Maritime Forum’s (GMF) pilot project mapping report identifies 373 pilot projects globally, with 70% involving partners from at least two countries, but the study also notes that ‘demand side actors and financial institutions remain comparatively under represented.’

The new report, Mapping of Zero-Emission Pilots and Demonstration Projects, was launched at a Getting to Zero Coalition workshop in Parus attended by Eric Banel, Director General for Maritime Affairs, Fisheries and Aquaculture at the French Ministry of the Seas.

The tally of projects in this year’s study is an 84% increase over last year’s edition and new projects have emerged in Thailand, Egypt, Malaysia and South Africa.

The report notes that partnerships are growing between developing and developed countries. Most projects are based in Europe (56%), Asia (33%) and North America (9%), and the top three countries by the number of projects are Norway, Japan and Denmark.

Findings also see a continued increase in projects focusing on hydrogen-based fuels with ammonia and hydrogen in the lead. Ammonia is seen as the dominant fuel focus for larger ship types with ammonia-powered ship designs receiving most of the Approvals in Principle in the last year. 

For smaller ships, the leading technologies remain battery technology, hydrogen fuel cells, hydrogen internal combustion engines, and methanol. The report also highlights that more mature methanol technologies have begun to move beyond the pilot stage to a commercialisation phase.

More than one third of registered projects have moved to a new stage or reached ‘an important development milestone’ since the third edition, and this includes more than 30 Approvals in Principle for ship technology projects in 2022 and 2023. Engagement by classification societies has also increased.

The top five countries most frequently represented in projects with international industry collaboration are Norway, Germany, the UK, the United States and Japan. Around 40% of all projects are publicly funded, a majority of which by European funders.

Bunkering and infrastructure technologies are seeing an increased focus on bunkering vessels, the report notes. There is also continuing evidence of value chain collaboration, with the number of projects involving a minimum of two value chain segments now constituting 87% of all zero-emission pilots and demonstration projects. Among these projects, the most active value chain segments consist of shipbuilder, equipment and technology (23%), energy production (16%), shipowner and ship operator (16%), classification society (9%) and port and terminal (7%).

Commenting on the findings of the report, Johannah Christensen, CEO of the Global Maritime Forum, called for more action within the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

‘We see tangible actions from the industry that demonstrate their eagerness to decarbonise by 2050. It is promising that the number of zero-emission pilot and demonstration projects is increasing each year and impactful projects are being developed in the Global South,’ she said.

‘Now we need industry’s actions to be backed by an ambitious revised greenhouse gas emissions strategy from the International Maritime Organization.

The full report can be accessed here

Image: Shutterstock

Lesley Bankes-Hughes