Key findings

In April 2018, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) adopted an ambitious greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction strategy for shipping.

This will impact on costs, asset values and earning capacity more significantly than in the past. The required changes in fuels and technologies will shape the future fleet. 

This publication is one of DNV GL’s new suite of Energy Transition Outlook (ETO) reports. It provides an independent outlook on the maritime energy future and examines how the energy transition will affect the industry. Our focus this year is the challenge facing the maritime industry of meeting the IMO GHG-reduction strategy, and the potential implications for the ecosystem of maritime stakeholders. This edition goes deeper into the energy challenge, exploring which fuels are likely to be implemented towards 2050. We investigate influential drivers and identify barriers to overcome in the possible decarbonization pathways. The proposed framework for assessing decarbonization pathways can help maritime stakeholders navigate the future and provide insight into how the GHG-emissions gap can be bridged. 

We have two interrelated perspectives. One, the view of policymakers and the industry in general, focusing on decarbonization of the world fleet. The other perspective is that of the shipowner facing difficult short-term decisions with longterm implications, requiring practical approaches for future-proofing assets.

Key findings

  • To meet the IMO greenhouse gas ambitions, new fuels, alongside energy efficiency, will play a key role.
  • Our new barometers will help by showing the decarbonization status of the world fleet and the readiness of alternative fuels. 
  • Bridging technologies and fuel flexibility can facilitate the transition from traditional fuels, and newbuildings should consider alternative fuel-ready solutions.
  • More robust newbuilding strategies can be achieved using a new multi-scenario approach to future-proofing.

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