UK unleashes £12 million for zero-emission maritime technologies

The UK government has announced a multi-million investment that aims to kickstart innovation in the maritime sector and tackle shipping emissions.

Illustration. Courtesy of Kees Torn on Flickr under CC BY-SA 2.0 license
Illustration. Courtesy of Kees Torn on Flickr under CC BY-SA 2.0 license

On 24 May, Maritime Minister Robert Courts confirmed the £12 million funding to accelerate the research and development of zero-emission maritime technologies.

A new competition is expected to create cleaner and greener routes on key domestic and international travel, fulfilling the country’s COP26 commitment, as well as green ferry sailings.

Courts unveiled the funding for the competition today in Portsmouth, the heartland of British shipping, as he met with some of the 55 winners from last year’s competition. At Portsmouth International Port, some of the previous winners showcased their projects.

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Now in its second round, the Clean Maritime Demonstration Competition (CMDC) was born out of the Prime Minister’s 10-point plan to tackle carbon emissions.

The CMDC is one of the first initiatives from UK SHORE, a new unit launched to make the maritime sector greener. Dedicated to creating a world free from shipping emissions, UK SHORE will work with industry to tackle numerous shipping emission challenges.

Through research and development (R&D) investments, it will include the provision of domestic zero-emission ferries, helping to tackle the approximately 1 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions that roll-on/roll-off (RoRo) vessels and passenger-only ferries contribute to the UK’s domestic shipping emissions.

“I want to see a new green age for maritime travel that is free from emissions. Following the success of last year’s competition, this second round has been designed to support a shipping future that uses the most creative and innovative ways for people and goods to sail in cleaner and greener ways,” Robert Courts said.

“At COP26, we pledged to create a green maritime legacy for generations to come, and UK SHORE puts us at the forefront of the global green maritime revolution – supporting thousands of green jobs around the country.”

Fulfilling the Clydebank Declaration agreed at COP26 to create green routes known as ‘green shipping corridors’ to and from the UK, this next round of the CMDC funding will include feasibility studies to help us work in partnership with industry to ultimately deliver green corridors both within the UK and internationally.

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The £206 million research and development funding for UK SHORE, the biggest investment in maritime ever, was announced as part of the National Shipbuilding Strategy in March 2022.

This investment is expected to accelerate the sector’s transition to a cleaner future supporting our voyage to net zero by 2050.

“The establishment of UK SHORE is a very important step on the UK maritime sector’s decarbonisation voyage…As before, industry will co-invest to create the solutions needed to decarbonise,” Ben Murray, Maritime UK Chief Executive, said.

“The UK Chamber of Shipping welcomes the announcement of the second round of the Clean Maritime Demonstration Competition. The journey toward the decarbonisation of shipping has started and these investments are critical to charter a clear pathway. We are looking forward to working closely with the government and the UK SHORE to secure further funding opportunities for the industry and explore the necessary transformative actions to help shipping deliver the commitment to net zero,” Anna Ziou, UK Chamber of Shipping Policy Director (Safety and Environment), commented.

The first Clean Maritime Demonstration Competition was launched last year by DfT to kickstart innovation in decarbonisation in the maritime sector.

Future elements of UK SHORE’s 3-year programme will include several more rounds of the Clean Maritime Demonstration Competition alongside other interventions to accelerate the development and use of key technologies.

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