Germany allocates €30 million per year for zero-emission vessels

Germany’s government has unveiled its decision to allocate millions of euros for the development of zero-emission vessels and support digitisation in shipbuilding.

Illustration. Germany's DB Schenker is to operate a zero-emission coastal container feeder vessel. Courtesy of Naval Dynamics AS

On 18 August 2022, Claudia Müller, Federal Government Coordinator for the Maritime Industry and Tourism, handed over the grant agreement in the amount of €1.3 million ($1.3 million) to the consortium for the digitisation of shipbuilding under the direction of Ostseestaal GmbH.

As explained, the ultimate goal is to make shipbuilding smarter, more cost-efficient and sustainable. This will be achieved by creating digital product models in which the entire process of a ship’s lifecycle can be mapped.

“The maritime economy in Germany is characterized by a modern shipbuilding industry specializing in innovative products with strong positions in global competition. These positions need to be expanded. Digitization, which is affecting more and more areas of shipbuilding and ship technology, offers a great opportunity for shipyards and their suppliers,” Müller said.

Many steps in the ship manufacturing process are still carried out manually and are time-consuming. One example is the forming of steel plates, which is later assembled into ship components. The processes here have so far hardly been automated.

With the project funded by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK), the cold-plastic 3D forming and the quality controls are to be digitised throughout – from goods receipt to production and final inspection. Artificial intelligence methods will be also used here. The digitised processes could reduce the production costs of unique steel constructions by up to seven percent. This will improve efficiency in the shipbuilding industry.

What is more, the government plans to support the green shipping industry and fund the construction of zero-emission ships.

“In shipping, however, not only digital but also environmentally friendly solutions are in demand,” Müller explained.

“For the development of green maritime technologies, we will provide an additional 30 million euros per year until 2025. We want to promote the construction of zero-emission ships and send out a strong signal for climate-neutral shipping,” she revealed.

Maritime research programs supported by BMWK

BMWK supports the maritime industry with the Maritime Research Program and the funding line Real-Time Technologies for Maritime Security in the development of innovative products in future fields of shipbuilding, the offshore industry and marine technology.

Both funding programs with an annual funding volume of approx. € 60 million aim to strengthen the innovative power of the maritime industry in international competition and promote the protection of the climate and the environment. At the same time, highly qualified jobs are secured in Germany.

The digital systems, innovative components, environmentally friendly propulsion systems and new underwater vehicles developed as part of the funding secure the technological basis for the maritime economy.