Structuring R&I towards zero emission waterborne transport
Waterborne transport (Maritime & Inland) can also be a major contributor to air pollution (PM, NOx, SOx), particularly in coastal regions around port cities and busy waterways. Hull coatings, discharges and noise can also influence the underwater environment. Inland waterway vessels, whilst also supporting low carbon logistic chains and decongesting European roads are largely powered by older generation diesel engines and improvements are necessary to further reduce GHG emissions and to reduce air pollution in order to meet regulatory and local urban air quality requirements. There are potential solutions for low - and zero-emission future ships and to improve the environmental performance of the existing fleet (Electrification, fuel cells, renewables, fuels, exhaust treatments, efficiency improvements, optimised logistics etc.).
A structured approach to R&I is needed to achieve wider use of these solutions, for example battery powered shipping needs to be integrated with port and electricity infrastructures, the use of these solutions must be cost-effective, safe and practical. R&I taking place at EU, national and international levels need to be identified and coordinated to maximize value and avoid duplication. Consequently, a strategic research and innovation agenda and new partnerships are needed towards the supply chain, research community, technology and energy providers. Clear priorities must be established and widely communicated so that they can become a focus for the greening of waterborne transport as a whole.
To address these challenges, proposals should cover all the following activities:
- Establish a multi stakeholders "green shipping" expert group. The group should address both maritime and inland transport with a membership including, for example, representatives from inland waterways, shippers, ship owners, waterborne equipment providers, ship builders, ports, logistics, energy and fuel providers, class societies, civil society and expertise in relevant technologies such as renewables, batteries and fuel cells. The group shall cooperate with the Waterborne Technology Platform, coordinate with Member States and Associated Countries and take into account the activities of the European Sustainable Shipping Forum (ESSF), the European Strategic Transport Research and Innovation Agenda (STRIA) and EU programmes such as the Motorways of the Sea under the Connecting Europe Facility.
- Working with the "green shipping" group, and considering the state-of-the-art, establish a clear vision for green waterborne transport which includes quantified targets for 2025, 2030 and 2050. Targets should include GHG, PMs, SOx, NOx as well as addressing different kinds of use e.g. for inland, deep sea, short sea, offshore and different vessel types such as cruise ship, ferry, small passenger ship etc.
- Building on the vision, jointly establish a strategic research and innovation agenda and an implementation plan for green waterborne transport. The most important priorities with the highest impact and the related knowledge gaps should be identified together with any synergies with all relevant programmes and actions at national, international and European level. The outcomes should be attractively presented in a way that is suitable for a general readership and also in a form that is suitable for the waterborne sector.
- Identify and if necessary develop the most appropriate mechanisms, incentives and business models to increase the take-up and deployment of the outcomes from the R&I projects.
- Establish and implement a strong communication strategy which will ensure visibility within wider society, press, the sector as a whole and with important stakeholders. Publish full reports, clear summary documents, electronic and visual media that are attractive and suitable for a general readership and the waterborne sector. The outcomes and related R&I activates should be disseminated widely, including within an annual workshop or conference which will ensure the widest possible attendance, visibility and engagement.
- Whilst work must focus on the greening of shipping towards the zero- emission goal for all waterborne transport, some related activities concerning digitalisation, safety and competitiveness may also be included.