Coherent visions of the future at industry seminar

The industry program Sustainable shipping has been launched. But it will hardly contribute to the oceans being invaded by self-driving vessels. Instead, digitalization will simplify work and life on board, improve logistics and save fuel. At least this is what the trendspotters at the seminar ”Sustainable shipping for 150 million!” said.

Ten years, SEK 150 million. Many pre-studies, research projects and innovation projects will come out that. But on what research? Rein Juriado from the Swedish Transport Administration was clear about that the specific content may be created by industry and researchers together.

”You have to come up with what is needed to create a sustainable shipping, he said when he opened the very first annual seminar of the industry programme Sustainable shipping in Gothenburg this week.

Many of the 90 conference participants were in place early and the talks were well under way before the start of the day, which Lighthouse Head of Operations Åsa Burman hooked on.

”We want a greatly broadened and in-depth triple helix collaboration. We want a number of projects where you work together. It is the whole Lighthouse idea, she said before the program's first round of projects were presented.

They concern different topics – from emissions, fuel issues and social sustainability to sustainable ports, port state controls, anti-fouling and autonomous security.
Hopefully they all will contribute to the future of shipping. So what can we expect of the future? In his trend span, Christian Grusell from DNV GL stated that transport volumes will increase by 50 per cent by 2030, while shipping will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 50 per cent by 2050. So how do you solve that equation?

"Logistics, the speed of the vessels and increasing ship sizes, we can reduce emissions a bit, but new fuels will stand as the most important thing if we are to succeed in achieving this," he said and presented figures that showed that in 2050, LNG and fossil-free fuels will account for about two-thirds of the shipping fuel.

Automated and self-driving vessels then? Well, they will hardly become a reality on a larger scale during our lifetime. Mikael Lindmark from SEKO seafarers showed a picture of what he described as "Rolls Royce's wet dream" - a self-driving ship that transports 100,000 tonnes across the Atlantic.

”I want to be clear that we will never counteract this. But we don't believe it.”

He mentioned two reasons for this. First, the crew accounts for a very small part of the total cost.

”Compared to fuel costs, the entire land organization, they do not cost much.”

Second, it is not easy to "automate" international regulations.

”You who have been in the IMO know how rigid it is. It takes immensely long time. Not may self-driving vessels will be built in the next few years, but the ambitions will drive the development forward for life and work aboard”, Mikael Lindmark, said.

Yes, digitization will provide opportunities. Erik Froste, head of the Färjerederiet mentioned automation of "gas and brake".

”If we automate the speed and drive our ferries optimally every time, we make energy savings of about 15 percent.

The very last words of the day were delivered by Chairman of the Board of Lighthouse, Harry Robertsson.

”I think this day has shown that there is a strong faith in the future, that we are many stakeholders who together can make sustainable shipping a reality. But we must also make shipping more visible in the public debate. It is very important that we get young people and the next generation interested in this exciting industry.”