WSC to Propose New IMO Entity for Developing Fuels of the Future

The World Shipping Council (WSC) revealed plans to propose the creation of an international research and development entity that would identify a new generation of marine fuels.

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As informed, the solution the WSC is developing in an effort to solve the greenhouse gas (GHG) problem will be proposed soon for discussion at the International Maritime Organization (IMO) headquarters in London.

The new body is seen as the next step in reducing the harmful emissions from shipping following the entry into force of the IMO 2020 sulphur cap in January 2020.

If the IMO adopts the WSC’s approach, the proposed International Maritime Research Board (IMRB) would be a dedicated-purpose new entity under the supervision of the IMO, with substantial industry participation.

It would be funded by mandatory industry contributions based on fuel use, which is something that the IMO already tracks, according to John Buttler, President and CEO of WSC.

Specifically, the money collected would be used to fund research that could be carried out by a wide range of entities around the globe, ranging from research institutions to national laboratories to independent institutions and companies. In addition to some basic science, the emphasis would be on evaluating which technologies have the greatest potential to be commercially feasible for powering long ocean voyages and then doing the engineering work to get those fuels and technologies to the point whether they can be commercially viable.

“One of the reasons that it is so critical that we create an institutional structure … is that it is simply not feasible for any one company or any one country to provide the resources and focus that are necessary to get the R&D done on a scale and on a schedule that would allow the industry to meet the IMO’s greenhouse gas emissions reductions for 2050 and beyond,” Butler said during his speech at the JOC Events Container Trade Europe Conference in Hamburg on September 19.

“Even though there are research projects currently underway on new fuels …, the fact is that we are going to need something bigger and more sustained to make decarbonization of shipping a reality. We think that standing up the IMRB to pursue R&D on a global scale is the way to reach that goal,” he pointed out.

Butler further explained that the IMRB would be designed “to work itself out of job and out of existence.” The new entity is aimed at solving the root problem of GHG emissions by finding and deploying new fuels and not at improving the existing fossil-fuel-based systems.