UECC CEO: We need to work at making smart decarbonization choices

As the urgency for the shipping industry to transition toward greener operations heightens, there is no room for complacency and waiting for a perfect solution, according to the CEO of United European Car Carriers (UECC), Glenn Edvardsen.

UECC battery hybrid LNG ro-ro scheduled for delivery late 2021; Image by UECC

“A lot has happened with sustainability in a little time, but we are not there yet. We have no option but to continue, and the industry needs to embrace this,” he said.

 “It’s important not to try and do everything at once. We have to find motivation in doing what is possible now and building on that. The biggest mistake you can make right now is not doing anything.”

UECC has already started its transition toward alternative fuels and propulsion systems with two duel-fuel LNG ships on the water and three battery-hybrid LNG vessels on the way.

“UECC is trying to provide the possibility for green transport so that our customers can join in and make a difference. That is our motivation. We genuinely want to provide this alternative,” Edvardsen said.

“We can’t just wait twenty years for the optimal solution. (…) When we built the dual-fuel vessels, we knew that LNG would not be the ultimate future fuel, but it is the best available option now.”

“We can use LNG, but also synthetic oil or biogas, to mention only a couple of alternatives. The present structure allows for progress in several possible directions.”

The same pragmatic thinking applies to the batteries on their new ships, Edvardsen says: “They will not be for pure propulsion, but they will allow us to take the next step, to squeeze even more transport out of the fuel we burn and reduce emissions even further.”

“We know well enough what we have to do, but we don’t want to become complacent. We will continue to try any good option.”

Still, he observes, no company can afford to throw money at every new idea.

“The interim solution needs to be viable too. There are many decarbonization solutions already available, but they might not be sustainable. Some of the potential solutions can be very expensive, so we need to work at making smart choices.”  

Furthermore, Edvardsen explained that emissions have become a part of contract negotiations.

“Every potential customer sends us emissions paperwork to fill out. They are eager to understand the emissions picture, and they are logging and documenting it for use in meetings and audits. They are feeling the pressure from their own customers and from regulators, so it comes back to us being able to help them,” he says.

“It would not be hard to get them onboard if there were no price tag. We can provide them the opportunity to join us, and we are doing this as competitively as possible,” Edvardsen confirms.

But change never comes free, he noted:

“Everybody has to be willing to contribute. It’s more about sharing the burden. The payoff is being able to lower emissions. That’s what they will achieve.”

UECC CEO Glenn Edvardsen; Image by UECC

Edvardsen noted that UECC continues to build advanced vessels while others in the segment are not building at all.

“We take a long-term view on things. We know not everything will pay off tomorrow, but we believe in what we are doing. We accept that the one in front needs to work a little harder. Even if not everyone is following now, we know this is the only way forward.”

“Stakeholders along the whole supply chain have become very well informed. The level of engagement is different today from what it was only a few years ago, and the awareness curve is steep. People understand that someone has to make the first move if we are going to see real change.”