‘Climate Positive’ Holiday Greetings!

Let’s dive right into the math and geeky details behind the emissions footprint of my AI-assisted ‘holiday greetings’ LinkedIn post!

1. Firstly, the post and its reach:

2. Onto the ‘network’:

GeographyAverage Carbon Intensity per Wh
(gCO2e/Wh)
LinkedIn Network DistributionWeighted Carbon Intensity contribution
(gCO2e/Wh)
Netherlands0.4040%0.16
EU0.2420%0.05
Norway0.0110%0.00
US0.4110%0.04
India0.6310%0.06
Singapore0.382.5%0.01
UK0.237.5%0.02
Total 100%0,18
Weighted Carbon Intensity of an interaction from my LinkedIn network
Calculated based on data provided by ChatGPT on grid intensity. Data years 2020 or 2022

Based on 1. and 2. above, the emissions from this post would be 1.16 Wh*0.18 gCO2e/Wh*44,000 = 9.13 kg CO2e

3. Thirdly, the energy consumed during the production of this post:

Total expected GHG footprint of the production + LinkedIn interactions of post:
9.13 + 0.16 = 9.3 kg of CO2e

This website is hosted by GreenGeeks and powered by renewable energy. But I do not yet have the functionality to estimate the impact of you reading this detailed analysis. To account for this, I decided to compensate for 10x the above-calculated amount.

4. Compensating for the emissions:

I learnt a lot while writing this, and I hope it gives you some new insights.

Happy holidays!!

Cover image: DALL.E
Cover image compression: Optimizilla
Research: ChatGPT

Disclaimer: This GHG accounting exercise was just a fun way to explore working with AI tools that have been at the top of our minds in 2023. It does not follow prescribed standards for specific industries or guidance frameworks (like the GHG Protocol), but attempts to emulate the accounting logic for the activity at hand.

3 A’s for maritime decarbonisation: Ambition

Figure 1: Overview of the targets and ambitions being proposed by different groups.
EU, Japan, Island nationsUSA, Ocean Rebellion, Trafigura, MMMCZCS


The IMO is set to convene next week for MEPC 80. Many anticipate more ambitious 2050 goals as well as interim targets. New milestones will affect everything – the fuels that vessels will run on, the technologies that are on board and most likely, the way we fundamentally do business. It’s a fitting time to pick up on where I left off with a previous post and talk more about Ambition for maritime decarbonisation.


Why is deep decarbonisation of shipping necessary?

Almost every discussion that brings together climate and shipping provides these statics: over 90% of traded good are transported by sea, and shipping accounts for about 3% of global carbon dioxide emissions. But what do these really numbers really mean?

Though out of sight for most people, the maritime industry is massive. Over 10.6 billion tons of cargo is moved by ships annually. That is a whopping 1.3 tons of goods – about equal to the weight of 6,500 medium weight cotton t-shirts – for every single person on our planet, every year. The physical footprint of all the cargo transported by vessels in 2020 was 58,865 billion ton-miles – that is equivalent to shipping 1 kg of potatoes from the earth to Proxima Centauri, the star nearest to us after the sun, over 42 times. Consequently, shipping also has an enormous impact on climate. Each year, shipping emits over 1 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the earth’s atmosphere. If the shipping industry were a country, it would be the 6th largest polluter, with a footprint lower than that of Japan and higher than Iran.

The types and sizes of vessels, the goods they carry and the routes they ply will change to reflect changes in the global economy. But shipping will continue to underpin life as we know it. We would be doing ourselves, our planet, and the future of humanity an immense disservice by not thinking big in the context of shipping.


Where did the 1.5°C target come from and where do we stand today?

The idea that temperature could be used to guide society’s response to climate change was first proposed by an economist half a century ago. In a 1975 paper on the economics of climate change, William Nordhaus (winner of the 2018 Nobel prize in economics), pondered about what might constitute a reasonable limit of global temperature rise for humanity to achieve. Subsequently, the 2°C limit he proposed was alluded to by the Stockholm Institute in 1990, and later found itself referred to frequently in political settings. As warming continued and researchers delved into its effects on climate, the implications became clearer, and it has come to be widely recognised that the ‘acceptable’ limit is 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. The first UNFCCC document to refer to this limit was the Cancun Agreement, adopted at COP 16 in 2010.

Using temperature rise as a metric is simple and sticky, but also deceptive. We often forget that an average of 1.5°C means that several areas on the planet will see much higher rises in temperature and witness far-reaching changes in biodiversity and natural capital. Uncertainty increases with global warming; events like earthquakes, wildfires, floods, hurricanes and the Covid pandemic have already started to become unnervingly common. The average warming over land and ocean stands at +0.86°C today. Atmospheric carbon dioxide is at a global average of 417.06 ppm, 50% higher than it was before the Industrial Revolution. The ocean has absorbed enough carbon dioxide to lower its pH by 0.1 units, a 30% increase in acidity. Earlier this year, researchers published an update on the planetary boundaries which showed that in seven of the eight cases, thresholds for a safe and just world have already been crossed. The word ‘polycrisis’ is beginning to be used to describe the world we’re living in.

If shipping’s emissions remain constant at 2018 levels, we will burn through the remainder of the industry’s share of the global 1.5°C-aligned carbon budget in just 7 years from now.


What should shipping’s ambition be?

Different countries, coalitions and organisations are backing different targets and ambitions (see Figure 1 above). The key underpinning questions are:

Despite this, at the end of the inter sessional working group meeting over the past week, the IMO appears to be heading in a direction that is not 1.5°C-aligned and several of the technical details in the draft text of the new targets are nebulously worded.

The end goal for shipping must be zero emissions and zero negative impacts. If we unfortunately realise, in an unfamiliar and unforeseen world a decade from now that we did not aim high enough back in 2023, it will be too late to change course.

We should set shipping on a rapid and ambitious decarbonisation trajectory towards that end goal and do all that it requires of us. We should do these things – appropriating JFK’s famous words – not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organise and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win.

Further reading: For details on where discussions stand after the ISWG GHG 15, read UMAS’ overview.

Shipping’s new energy technology ecosystem – 2023

To zoom in, hover over the image or press and hold (for mobile devices); single click to open in a new tab.


I published my first overview of shipping’s clean energy technologies at the end of 2021. A lot has changed since then, and decarbonisation has slowly but surely made its way to the top of the maritime agenda. I’ve been keeping tabs on the different technologies and companies that have been making waves in a dynamic, open-source database in the Ship Technologies section of this website.

Here is an updated, non-exhaustive, TRL-agnostic, 2023 overview of the industry’s new on-board hardware technology ecosystem. The top changes during the last 18 months are:

Do you know of any other company or technology that should be included here next time?
Let me know!

3 A’s for maritime decarbonisation … it’s time to bake!

Until recently, I had the privilege of working for a company that has pushed the limits of European inland shipping by going beyond mere feasibility studies and embarking on the journey to build a fleet of zero-emissions vessels. I have spent these last 6+ years steeped in all things shipping and decarbonisation. As I set my sights on the future, and work on finding a new path to contributing to large-scale positive climate impact, I have tried to distil my learnings into a framework for what I think is needed to supercharge shipping’s energy transition, or that of any other hard-to-abate sector for that matter. This will guide my own choice of what I dedicate the next decade of my life to and how. I hope that it will give you something to chew on or inspire you to share your own perspectives.

Ambition

Whether it is because we are caught up in the vagaries of everyday life, or because we pride ourselves on being modest, we don’t often dare to dream big and consider the possibility that crazy, audacious goals can propel us much further than modest ambitions. You know what they say — fortune favours the bold. We begin to think in possibilities and constantly look for opportunities when we believe that the sky is the limit, instead of making peace with the suboptimal.

What might inspire you to take up baking? The hope that you can recreate your grandma’s scrumptious chocolate cake one day, or the need for some bread for tomorrow’s lunch?

SpaceEx created reusable rockets and changed the face of space exploration. Would they have accomplished that if their dot on the horizon had been ‘make a better rocket’ instead of ‘colonise Mars’?

Action

Flour sold out very quickly in grocery stores across Europe during Covid because many of us picked up a new hobby — yes, you guessed right, baking. Accomplished bakers will tell you that it is ‘a science, not an art; it requires precision and planning’. So when we started baking, we looked up recipes, found the right tools, and researched and purchased the appropriate ingredients. All the preparations helped a lot — to a certain extent. Beyond that, they only delayed learning. At some point, you had to actually bake to figure out if your recipe, technique and ingredients worked. When I made carrot cake for the first time, it turned into a smoky carrot biscuit that I bravely ate because curiosity got the better of me.

When we put a novel technology on board a ship or in port environments, it is not going to work seamlessly right off the bat. It will take tinkering, adapting, and optimising. Several iterations will be required to build these to top-notch operational and safety standards. We have completed several feasibility studies, tested technologies in labs and conducted numerous cost calculations. It is now time to put technologies on vessels and test them out in maritime environments — whatever your technology of choice, and whatever the scale that fits your budget. We need to give ourselves time for the learning curve that we often tend to forget.

Assimilation

There is an upside to not getting something right — if you learn from it, try to figure out what went wrong, and do things differently the next time around. I learnt from the charred carrot-biscuit fiasco, and tweaked things around for the next attempt. It took a few more tries to get to cake, but I got there.

Introducing a novel technology into the maritime environment is obviously no piece of cake. But if it takes a couple of attempts to even get cake right, we are going to need to work on at least several hundred projects at different scales, and learn from them, to decarbonise the entire maritime ecosystem. The learnings from these projects need to be shared in both structured and unstructured ways through formal and informal channels to kick-off the virtuous cycle that will rev-up shipping’s energy transition.

You might have other things to add; behaviour change and collaboration are probably top of that list. In my book, they perfectly bolster the 3 A’s, and will only help us get to the goal faster. To create meaningful difference within a consequential timeframe, we have no choice but to aim high, act fast and learn rapidly from our failures. And repeat.

My next three blog posts will unpack each of the 3 A’s further and explore ideas and examples that I find inspiring. Stay tuned!

Shipping’s new technology ecosystem

The maritime technology ecosystem is evolving quickly and the shipping industry’s future most likely holds a multitude of alternative fuels and energy technologies. What’s already out there? Who’s building which technology and what does this new ecosystem look like? Here’s an overview.


Notes:

Comparing battery technologies: Nickel-H2 vs. Iron vs. Li-ion


As the world clamours to meet greenhouse gas reduction targets to mitigate climate change and electrify different sectors (especially cars), lithium is fast becoming a hot (pun intended) commodity. A recent outlook by Benchmark Mineral Intelligence mentioned that ‘there isn’t enough capacity within the supply pipeline to meet the demand we’re anticipating over the next decade’ and that ‘the deficit of LCE (lithium carbonate equivalent)* is expected to grow to 50,000 tons by 2025.’ Moreover, soaring lithium demand is expected to exhaust the residual lithium reserve on land by 2080.

The largest producers of lithium today are Australia, Chile China, Argentina, US, Brazil, Zimbabwe and Portugal. In 2020, the total annual production of lithium amounted to 82,000 tons. Total identified (land-based) lithium resources stand at 86 Million tons; Bolivia, Chile and Argentina (the ‘lithium triangle’) are home to > 50% of these. Several initiatives are looking into potentially extracting significant amounts of lithium from seawater. Environmental, social and ethical issues have long been bones of contention in lithium production.

Several companies and researchers are working on different battery chemistries that aim to store energy at lower costs than lithium-ion batteries, have lower lifecycle climate impact, and reduce our dependence on lithium. A few such chemistries that have made big waves recently are EnerVenue’s nickel-hydrogen battery, ESS Inc’s iron flow battery and Form Energy’s iron-air battery. The following table compares these on a few basic parameters to the ubiquitous lithium-ion batteries. It is important to note at this point, that there are several lithium ion battery chemistries in use today, including Lithium-Iron Phosphate (LFP), Lithium-Cobalt Oxide (LCO), Lithium Manganese Oxide (LMO), Lithium-Nickel Manganese Cobalt (NMC), Lithium-Nickel Cobalt Aluminium (NCA), and Lithium-Titanate Oxide (LTO) and they could use different types of anodes, including carbon (graphite, hard carbon, soft carbon, graphene), silicon, and tin.

The cost per kWh is compared below without taking into account the balance of plant (all the components surrounding the battery cells) and the integration specific to each chemistry or application (automotive, marine, etc.). These additional costs can be quite significant, especially in the case of maritime batteries. For marine applications, batteries are required to meet more stringent safety and operational parameters when compared to batteries used in cars or for stationary applications. They also tend to be much larger, as even the auxiliary power systems of inland or short sea cargo vessels would require far more capacity than a Tesla model S for example.

The number of vessels operating with batteries on board has grown rapidly over the last decade. The Maritime Battery Forum’s ship register estimates that there are > 400 vessels with batteries on board, either in operation or on order in 2021.

It might take a while for nickel or iron batteries to be mature enough / ready to be deployed in the maritime space. Some of them may not even be suitable for onboard applications given conditions like salt water, humidity, vibrations due to currents, etc., or their physical footprint. But they are interesting developments to follow, as they could be combined with Li ion batteries to offer more economical, optimised and sustainable solutions to decarbonise port operations or increase access to shore power.


*Lithium carbonate as well as lithium hydroxide are both required for batteries. But other other lithium compounds are typically produced from lithium carbonate, making it the reference point for measuring production.

**Data from: BNEFESS Inc.TechCrunchRecharge NewsRedefining Energy Podcast — Long Duration Energy Storage: The “Final frontier”Form Energy.

Post first published on 3 October 2021, and updated on 14 October 2021.

Making our planet and shipping resilient together

Decarbonisation is shipping’s white swan (I refer to the kind made popular by Nassim Nicholas Taleb), or rather, a bevy of little white swans if you will. Complete decarbonisation is inevitable; the only question now is when, not if. It is necessary for the industry to survive, and thrive in the world we will be living in. Vessels built in 2050 will be very different from the ones we build today. But given the longevity of vessels, those that we build today can co-exist with the ones built in 2050; only if we make them and the ecosystem they operate in sufficiently resilient.

Commercial shipping is a low margin business and only the very forward-thinking cargo owners are willing to pay a premium to ship goods sustainably. We don’t yet know what the technology, fuel or regulatory landscape will look like in a few years. Yes, we have a ton of limitations. And this forces us to innovate from the point of view of scarcity, with a focus on optimisation and incremental change. But the scale of the problem ahead of us requires fundamental change, delivered rapidly. Instead, if we think about this from the point of view of abundance, where we don’t have to make the business case for each single vessel work right now, would we come up with different solutions? And could we bring those solutions to scale, in turn making the economics work? When I thought about this — giving priority to resource efficiency and rapid deployment — here’s what I came up with.

(As I do not want this to be a which-is-our-future-fuel debate, my fuels and technologies are called Q,W,E,R,T and Y. If you have spent too much of your lockdown watching detective series like me, and are trying to figure out if there is a subliminal link between an alphabet and a particular fuel or technology, don’t. It’s completely random, my keyboard just threw the alphabets at me in that order.)

We can push the boundaries of flexibility further

We are already working on flexible and modular solutions and are developing concepts where fuel storage, and energy systems are containerised and swappable. But is there a way in which we can push this concept further, to increase our preparedness, and consequently resilience, in the face of uncertainty on multiple dimensions?

Let’s start with the vessel as a whole. We are preparing ships to operate on fuelQ, W or E in anticipation of future developments. But what would it take to make a vessel all-currently-possible-future-fuels-ready? Let’s assume that fuel Q has the most challenging ventilation requirements, W has the highest flammability risk and E is highly corrosive. What’s keeping us from taking all of the worst-case boundary conditions of Qand E, and designing vessels keeping those in mind? Isn’t a multi-future-fuel-ready vessel a far more attractive investment than a vessel betting on a single fuel?

Similarly for fuel storage, different fuels require different kinds of tanks. We are thinking of making them modular and easy to put them on and remove from a vessel. But there is then still a risk that I invest in a tank for fuel for my vessel and 3 years later, I need to retrofit her again to be able to operate on (because T is now way cheaper, or more widely available) or vice versa. In this situation, I would prefer a tank that can be used for both R and T.

Let’s assume R, T and are all liquid/cryogenic fuels. has to be stored at the lowest temperature of all of these. At first glance, it might not make sense to store Y in a tank meant for much colder T. But what exactly is the difference, and how much of it has to do with certification/regulation than the actual design, materials or parts used?

What if we picked the more difficult of the fuels, let’s say T, and tested and certified the tank for all similar fuels (i.e., R and Y as well)? I realise this might double, triple or quadruple the cost. But if this flex-fuel tank were available, would several more vessel owners be more willing to dip their toe in the decarbonisation ocean? Probably.
Would this mitigate a certain amount of risk, and enable easier access to capital? Quite possibly.
And if the manufacturer sold twice or thrice the number of tanks, would they be able to recover the costs of the extra investment? That could easily be calculated, right? Would this accelerate deployment and give shipping a collective competitive advantage? I believe it would.

These are just some examples, I’m sure there are a lot of other possibilities. Unless we get new technologies into the water, we are not going to find out whether or not they will be effective and efficient. We tend to keep waiting for someone else to figure this out in order to deploy them, firmly planting ourselves in the midst of a classic chicken-or-egg conundrum. Accelerated deployment will break this un-virtuous cycle, and we must do all we can to move things along.

We have the opportunity to leverage fuel, cost and regulatory uncertainty to innovate and prepare ourselves for the most technically challenging scenario, and for a complete lack of consensus. While this is not what comes to mind at the first instance, the advantage of this approach is that it will make us highly flexible and it can radically speed up deployment (which is our biggest bottleneck at the moment). This would, in turn, set us in good stead to deal with white, grey or black swans that the next couple of decades might throw at us.

Could gravity speed up the shift to renewables?


I’d like to believe that an apple did hit Newton on the head, and that led him to discovering gravity. The story is just more fun that way. But whether or not the apple actually fell on his head, according to the manuscript in the archives of the Royal Society, an apple definitely seems to have been involved. Newton’s Principia, explaining the phenomenon of gravity was first published in Latin in 1687. And it created quite a ruckus.

Now, over 300 years later, climate change is hitting us on the head in no uncertain terms, and gravity seems to be making a comeback. As we rapidly transition towards producing more and more energy from intermittent renewable sources like wind and solar, we must find efficient and effective ways to store this energy at scale, and reuse it when needed. I’ve been curious about sustainable ways to store energy over long periods of time, so I started looking into what’s out there. This post is focused on exciting gravity-based solutions and the companies working on them.

The underlying ‘gravity’ concept is similar to that of traditional pumped hydropower. To put it very simply, energy is used to pump water up to a height. When the water is released, and it passes through a turbine, it releases this energy. The challenge with pumped hydro, however, is that it requires a suitable location with water and appropriate surrounding topography (hills for reservoirs at different heights for example) for us to be able to harness it.

Novel solutions, using this concept, but replacing water with other materials (like bricks and weights)b, or creating the possibility to tap into hydropower in more widely available locations are being developed.

Why are these gravity-based technologies potential competitors to large, grid-scale battery systems?

Who is building these technologies and what are the systems like?

Here’s a non-exhaustive list –

Energy Vault (Switzerland, founded 2017):
Energy Vault’s solution replaces the water in pumped hydro with custom made 35-ton composite blocks made from low-cost materials. The concept video reminds me of playing Tetris, but with real-life bricks going in two directions — ‘recharging’ when the bricks are taken up and placed on top of the tower and ‘discharging’ when they are brought back down. Energy Vault estimates the round-trip energy efficiency to be between 80–90%. The plants are designed for ranges of 20–35–80 MWh storage capacity and a 4–8MW of continuous power discharge for 8–16 hours. They are also developing solutions to offer full scalability from 1 MWh modules up to multi-GWh of storage capacity. Their first demo site is in Tinicio, Switzerland.

Gravitricity (UK, founded 2011):
Gravitricity’s system suspends weights with the help of cables in a deep shaft. Each cable is engaged with a winch capable of lifting its share of the weight. Electrical power is consumed when raising the weight and generated by lowering it. The system is estimated to have an 80–90% efficiency, can utilize decommissioned mine shafts (> 300m depth) and has a design life of up to 50 years, enabling a low cost of storage per kWh. Their first 250 kW demo in Edinburgh recently generated (shore-)power for the first time, and a full-scale, 4 MW plant is planned to start later this year. Gravitricity recently announced plans to add compressed hydrogen and thermal storage to their installations.
study (in 2019) by Imperial College London estimated that Gravitricity’s technology could store energy at half the cost of Lithium-ion batteries. Even considering the drop in battery prices over the last year, this is a significant advantage.

Advanced Rail Energy Storage (USA, founded 2010):
Sheldon Cooper (or any ‘trainiac’) would absolutely love this one!
ARES’ fixed motor, chain-drive system uses electricity to drive mass cars uphill on fixed rail tracks, converting electricity into potential energy. When power is required, this process is reversed and the mass cars go downhill; the electric motors operate as generators, converting the potential energy back into electricity. The amount of energy stored depends on the number of mass cars and the (perpendicular) height of the slope. Storage capacity can be increased by adding more tracks, and duration by increasing track length. Each mass car is 25% longer and about twice as wide as a standard twenty-foot container (TEU) and weighs approx. 320 tons. A 50 MW GravityLine with 10 multi-rail tracks and 210 mass cars is being built in Nevada.

Gravity Power (USA):
The GPM (Gravity Power Module) uses a very large piston suspended in a deep, water-filled shaft, with sliding seals to prevent leakage around the piston and a return pipe connecting to a pump-turbine at ground level. The piston is made up of reinforced rock (or low-cost concrete). The dropping piston forces water down the storage shaft, up the return pipe and through the turbine, producing electricity. To store energy, electricity drives the generator in reverse, spinning the pump to force water down the return pipe and into the shaft, lifting the piston. Each shaft can be used to store several MWh of energy. Water needs to be filled into the shaft once at the start of operations; it can then be reused.

New Energy Let’s Go (Germany):
Their concept, originally developed by Heindl Energy GmbH, involves creating a cylindrical well (in bedrock) in which a large rock mass is pushed up and down with the help of hydraulic pumps. Excess renewable electricity can be used to push water under a movable rock piston, and when electricity is needed, the rock mass is lowered, pushing the water under it through a turbine to generate power. Estimated diameter of a 1 GWh plant is 150m and that of an 8 GWh plant is 250m. New Energy Let’s Go is an interim investor who has acquired the patents and is seeking a strategic investor to continue development.

RheEnergise (UK, founded 2019):
The company is developing ‘HD Hydro’ or high-density hydropower technology that makes it possible to reach the same power output on hills that are 60% lower than in projects using water. This is achieved by using an environmentally benign high-tech fluid (R-19 TM) with a density 2.5x that of water that has been engineered to be non-reactive and non-corrosive. This unlocks several new potential sites, reduces plant construction costs and has the potential to significantly speed up deployment.

Easy Hydro (UK, founded 2019):
Easy Hydro, a spin-out of Trinity College Dublin, makes small-scale (1–200 kW) modular hydropower generating sets suitable for harnessing energy from man-made water networks (e.g. drinking water or irrigation networks) as well as natural ones (rivers, lakes). The installation requires a 10m water column (or 1 bar pressure) and a flow rate of 4 litres/sec. The magnitude of the power output is based on the pressure and flow rates. Easy Hydro uses off-the-shelf water pumps with a reversed flow direction, instead of custom hardware. This enables them to keep costs low, and makes installations easy to repair.

How does the (design) scale of these different solutions compare?

Energy storage solutions can be compared on two aspects. Energy capacity measures the total amount of energy that can be stored in a system (units – kWh, MWh, GWh, etc.) And power capacity measures the maximum amount of power that can be delivered by a system (units – kW, MW, GW, etc.)

For instance, an energy storage installation with an 8 MW, 80 MWh configuration can provide a maximum continuous power of 8 MW for 10 hours, or it can provide a lower, 4 MW power for 20 hours. This design however, cannot provide power higher than 8 MW.

From the examples above, ‘energy towers’ could be made taller or ‘gravity lines’ could be made to go to higher altitudes to increase the energy capacity. The power capacity of the installations could be manipulated by changing the speed at which the bricks / water / mass cars are displaced.

And this is how the energy capacity of individual installations from the above companies (approximately) compares:

In conclusion, for any energy storage solution to be successful, it has to be easily deployable, scalable and low-cost. At sufficient scale, gravitational storage solutions could (theoretically for now) easily compete with batteries on cost, and offer a more environmentally sustainable solution when we compare the entire lifecycle of the technology. This is worth accelerating the work on gravity-based solutions, don’t you think?

Decarbonising shipping: From theory to technology deployment


I regularly run into innovators and inventors who are interested in deploying their zero-carbon or energy optimisation/saving technologies in the shipping industry. These conversations usually end up being pitches for the alternative fuel in question, or the ‘macro’ merits of shipping’s decarbonisation. But what I, or any potential user of the technology (who ultimately needs to foot the bill), really want to understand are the technology’s capabilities, the inherent risks and challenges to implementation, and barriers (or not) to scale.

Over the last few years, I’ve analysed several technologies for their potential to decarbonise the shipping industry and made decisions on whether or not they are worth investing — money and effort — into. This blog is a summary of insights gained over that time, which I hope will help teams working on new technologies understand some of the nuances of building for this all-pervasive but under-the-radar industry.