Shipping may be seen as a 'barometer' of the world economy. If shipping was to be considered as a nation, it would be the 6th bigger CO2 polluter in the world. However, dividing those CO2 emissions by the amount of cargo transported, one can see it is one of the environment's friendliest modes of transportation. As shipping is extremely dependent on the markets and their geographical location, vessel variables like speed, dimensions and energy efficiency, that have been well defined for decades, will need to be reviewed quickly, and with these technical changes, societal changes should also be expected. Such changes, will have a strong impact on the societies but also on the praxis of the design of marine propulsion plants, even though the support to the vessels that the ports can offer also has a strong impact on the carbon footprint of the vessel operation.

One obvious way to improve the carbon footprint of the vessels, is through the improvement of the energy efficiency. Therefore new concepts of propulsion plants need to be designed, calling for new energy technologies like hybrid systems, extensive waste heat recovery, renewables and the use of new fuels with lower carbon intensity. The paper, also focuses on the comparison of future fuels and their respective carbon foot print. Finally it is presented a forecast of the future marine fuels until 2050, and some recommendations in what concerns the required research and innovation.


Shipping Carbon Emissions; Energy Transition; Future Fuels; Hydrogen

Written by

Jorge Antunes
BSc, MSc, PhD Marine Engineering, CEng

14 pages




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