Intertwining with the efforts of the SEA20 league of rethinking the marine ecosystem, an initiative from leading Nordic industrial players is looking to find the fastest route towards zero emissions shipping. 


Even though shipping remains the most environmentally friendly way of transporting goods, maritime transport emits around 940 million tonnes of CO2 annually and is responsible for about 2.5 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, according to the International Maritime Organization. 


To tackle this issue, the ZEEDS coalition, or Zero Emission Energy Distribution at Sea, has been set up by six forward-leaning companies to accelerate the shift towards zero emissions shipping. The aim is to address challenges related especially to the supply, storage and distribution of clean, alternative fuels. 


Spearheaded by Wärtsilä, and introduced this past June at the Wärtsilä Future Innovation Day – Horizons event in Oslo, Norway, the other members of the coalition include Aker Solutions, an offshore engineering and technology company, Equinor, the multinational energy company, DFDS, an international shipping and logistics company, Grieg Star, an international ship owning and operating company, and Kvaerner, a leading EPC specialist. 


Guided by the UN’s sustainability goals 

According to ZEEDS spokesperson Cato Esperø, Sales Director, Marine Division, Nordics and Baltics, Wärtsilä, the foundation for the initiative was laid at a previous Future Innovation Day held in Norway in the spring of 2018, where the main discussion topics included the launch and presentation of an autonomous vessel and docking system, and the governmental decision in Norway to make all fjords fossil-free by 2026. 


“All the workshops and conversations held around these subjects among various stakeholder groups led to us taking one of the ideas further and presenting it to possible partners for the ZEEDS coalition. We looked at the UN Sustainable Development goals and how they connected to our concept of sustainable energy distribution. We then considered which operators could add value and offer a knowledge base for potential solutions,” Esperø explains. 


He emphasises that co-operation and transparency between partners are integral to the formation of a smarter, cleaner maritime ecosystem and a sustainable bunkering infrastructure for the ships of tomorrow. 


Expanding the coalition 

Based on promising ideas explored by the ZEEDS partners so far, participants at the Horizons event in June were asked to workshop ideas around questions including the way that smart marine solutions could help preserve living standards in port cities, the role of offshore hubs in providing clean energy, the means of maximising the energy efficiency of future vessels and the best options for accelerating the uptake of renewable fuels. 


“Although the ideas all present various challenges, they are grounded in existing technologies, and are certainly achievable. An interesting example is renewable offshore energy production, which has been an active topic in public discussion in Norway all this past summer. Things are now starting to accelerate, and we believe it won’t be too long until the first installation will be a reality, and not just a futuristic concept,” Esperø says. 


He adds that the ZEEDS project has already managed to generate a lot of publicity and invitations to conferences and private discussions around the world. Also, dozens of potential partners have been in contact, interested in joining the initiative. Accelerating the industry’s transition to clean fuels and energy infrastructure requires, naturally, broad collaboration between stakeholders also outside shipping, from governments and regulators to port authorities and cities. 


“So far, the response has been even better than expected, and we are excited to see all the potential business perspectives and unique views that different operators can offer,” Esperø says, adding that the ZEEDS partners will meet up again at the end of September to consider the next steps forward.