United States needs government leadership on low-carbon shipping
At a congressional hearing on decarbonizing the maritime industry last week, the chairman of naval architecture firm Glosten, Inc. called for a new strategic initiative to invest in green technology for the US domestic fleet .
“Creating a carbon-free maritime industry is an unprecedented challenge that creates a unique opportunity for US technology developers. If this is our goal, time is running out. We will soon lose in the face of foreign competition that is better funded and better prepared to steer the shipping industry towards decarbonization, ”said Morgan M. Fanberg, chairman of Glosten, at a hearing of the House Subcommittee on Guard coastal and maritime. “We’re at a point where we can either lag behind and embrace foreign technology, or act quickly and rule the world.”
US tech competition could start here, Fanberg said, with new investments in the Jones Act fleet. With more than 3,600 ships of 100 GT and over – tugs, ferries, OSVs, workboats and coastal merchant vessels – the United States has one of the largest national fleets in the world. Under the right conditions, this fleet could be a natural market for low carbon technology development based in the United States.
Fanberg called for a new strategic initiative on maritime decarbonization, led by the Department of Energy and the Maritime Administration, to fund the R&D and infrastructure needed for low-carbon investments. First and foremost, he recommended government investment in infrastructure for recharging ships’ electricity and bunkering carbon-free fuel in port areas. The additional cost of new coastal energy infrastructure is often difficult to afford for ports and vessel operators.
Second, he proposed a concerted public-private effort to launch pilot R&D projects, bringing together university researchers, industrial partners and maritime academies. He noted that Glosten’s recent project with Bieker Boats on an electric hydrofoil ferry received around $ 0.4 million in federal support, while a competing project in the UK (Artemis Technologies) received support from the government totaling $ 45 million. In a similar example, a 2018 design of a hydrogen research vessel by Glosten and Scripps is still awaiting federal funding, while the EU is providing $ 25 million for the development of two ro-ro hydrogen ferries for Wilhelmsen.
“The global shipping industry has not faced a greater challenge since ships switched from sailing to steam. Steps must be taken now to tackle the amount of scientific and technical work required to move the industry to decarbonization in the next 25-30 years. We have the key resources ready to meet this challenge, but if we delay, we will watch foreign countries develop future technologies in equipment, fuels and infrastructure, ”Fanberg warned. “We need the government to partner with academia and private industry to develop, deploy and demonstrate carbon-free technologies to meet emissions targets and position the United States as the global maritime leader.”