Looking ahead to 2020 and beyond, both maritime and inland waterways will be under ever increasing pressure, as we use them for transport, recreation and commercially. At European Shipping week, Dr Pierre C. Sames, Chairman of the European Research Association and Director of Maritime Technology, Research and Development at classification society DNV GL, introduced a new initiative – Vessels for the Future – which aims to improve shipping’s safety record, sustainability and global competitiveness.
Launched in November 2014, over 50 companies, research institutes, academic organizations and interested associations have already signed up to take part in the initiative to work towards a more sustainable European transport system. “Aiming at a private public partnership is important not only as it allows us to have a coordinated research, development and implementation (RDI) programme which covers both vessels and waterborne operations, but it demonstrates a clear commitment from all stakeholders to meet the ambitious goals of the initiative,” said Dr Sames.
The initiative focuses on the three key areas for the maritime transport cluster: safe and efficient waterborne transport and competitiveness of the maritime sector in Europe. Vessels for the Future has set ambitious goals in a 2050 perspective: an 80 per cent reduction in CO2 and 100 per cent reduction in SOx and NOx emissions, and a reduction in risk by a factor of 10.
Five maritime technologies are seen as vital to unlocking greater efficiencies and improving environmental performance: new materials and processes, fuels and propulsion systems, information and communication technology (incl. e-maritime), hull water interaction, energy management and novel vessel design concepts. In addition, Vessels for the Future aims at creating the first European vessel demonstrator to test new technologies at ship level. Advances in these areas are also capable to strengthen industrial competitiveness and job creation in our sector.
By developing energy efficient and safe vessels (or vessels for the future), the initiative will address the societal challenge of moving towards sustainable transport. At the same time it will maintain the cutting edge design, manufacturing and innovative produc¬tion capacities, having a positive impact on employment and the global competitive¬ness of the European economy.
“We are now looking forward to taking more action on this initiative,” said Dr Sames. “The programme has the potential to greatly increase the introduction of innovative enabling waterborne technologies. And the focus on demonstrating the cost vs. performance benefits of the innovations will ensure that they find a place in the market. This will further improve the profitability of industrial research by increasing market share, thereby enabling more investment in long term technological competitiveness. The next step for our initiative is to engage with the EU Commission to move towards a contractual private public partnership.”