Low Carbon Marine Transport

Decarbonization Avenue : Low Carbon Marine Transport

Over 10 billion tons of goods are transported by ship each year. About 90% of the world's goods are transported by sea, with over 70% as containerized cargo. Such is the dominance of shipping for commercial and industrial logistics.

Shipping contributes about 3% of total CO2 emissions and there is a clear realization among all the industry players that they need to bring down these emissions significantly within a reasonable time period.

Many avenues are available for shipping decarbonization, with some of them (like LNG powered ships) already commercialized. Increasing the energy efficiency of the ship’s engines and powertrain could provide reasonable CO2 emissions reductions. Significant efforts and investments can be expected for these two decarbonization opportunities. 

Running ships on biofuels (bio-methanol or biodiesel) is another opportunity, though these efforts are only in pilot stages as of 2021. Given that a large ship could carry a massive 3 million gallons of fuel (about 9000 tons), use of biofuels for shipping could pose challenges in terms of availability of large volumes of biofuels. Electrification of shipping will face challenges similar to the one that the aviation sector faces - that of low battery energy density.

For the 2020-2030 period, some of the impactful innovations in this sector will be around route planning & fleet optimization, use of biofuels, wind powered ships, and use of digital technologies for monitoring and optimizing fuel consumption.

Decarbonization potential

Shipping contributes about 3% of total CO2 emissions, almost 1 billion tons per annum.

The marine fishing sector (industrial and small scale) accounts for an estimated 215 million tons of CO2 emissions per year.

The rest of marine transport (boating, cruise, super yachts) together could contribute 75-100 million tons of CO2 per annum. Among these, cruise ships about 20 million tons per annum, and a not insignificant amount could come from superyachts - some estimates suggest one superyacht alone could emit upto 6000 tons of CO2 per year depending on use, and there are about 8000 superyachts in the world.

Industries impacted

  • Chemicals & petrochemicals
  • Environmental services
  • Fertilizers
  • Logistics
  • Marine transport
  • Oil & gas
  • Trading & distribution

Latest News on Low Carbon Marine Transport

Themes & Topics

  • Types of marine transport

    • Large container ships

    • Cruises

    • Boats & yachts

  • Efficiency in shipping operations

    • While at sea

    • While berthing

  • CNG & LNG shipping

  • Biofuels

    • Methanol as a shipping fuel

  • Carbon capture on ships

  • Alternative propulsion technologies

    • Wind assisted shipping

  • Route planning & optimization




  • Electric marine transport

    • Electric boats, yachts & cruises

    • Electric shipping

      • Battery based

      • Hydrogen based

      • Ammonia based

  • Policies

    • Regional

    • International

  • Use of IT & digital solutions

  • Case studies

  • Financing

  • Collaboration

    • Organizations & associations





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