Since Enviu started looking into the maritime transport sector in 2016, a lot has happened.
As an impact-driven venture building studio, Enviu runs programmes to deeply understand flawed value chains. Within our programmes we try to identify key challenges towards a more sustainable system and to develop strategic interventions to overcome these and we believe that solutions can only become widely deployed when supported by a solid business case. This is exactly why we launch ventures to tap into the sustainable business opportunities we identify.
To then grow our market share and to inspire other market participants to change to more sustainable business models too.
Enviu thoroughly analysed the entire maritime transport value chain and developed a Theory of Change, defining how and when a zero-emission maritime transport sector could materialise and what hurdles would need to be overcome to get there. We believe that with the right mindset of global stakeholders a zero-emission maritime transport industry is possible within a 25 years timeframe, which is equal to the economic life cycle of a modern vessel.
Theory of Change
A Theory of Change is essentially a comprehensive description and illustration of how and why a desired change is expected to happen in a particular context. It is focused in particular on mapping out or “filling in” what has been described as the “missing middle” between what the program does (its activities or interventions) and how these lead to desired goals being achieved. It does this by first identifying the desired long-term goal- in our case a zero-emission maritime transport industry- and then works back from these to identify all the conditions that must be in place (and how these relate to one another causally) for the goals to occur.
Shipping has a significant impact on worldwide emissions. The lion-share of which comes from the ocean-going cargo ships of up to six football fields long that mostly run on Heavy Fuel Oils (HFO). HFO is a category of fuel oils of a tar-like consistency, also known as bunker oil or residual fuel oil. HFO is contaminated with several different compounds including aromatics, sulfur and nitrogen, making emissions upon combustion more polluting than other fuels. HFO is mainly used as a fuel source for marine vessel propulsion due to its low cost compared to cleaner fuels.
In the section ‘Future Proof Fuels’ of this website we elaborate on the alternatives that exist for HFO, including fossil based but less polluting liquified natural gas (LNG), biofuels and several fuels that can be generated using renewable energy, consisting of pure hydrogen, or a combination of hydrogen with other substances like CO2 (methanol), nitrogen (ammonia), oils (LOHC) or metal hydrids (NaBh). For the maritime transport sector to become 100% 0-emission, fuels will need to be produced without any emission which means that green hydrogen will either be the fuel of the future in its pure form (e.g. compressed or liquid) or at least be a significant part of it.
In order to accelerate the transition towards a zero-emission industry THRUST undertakes activities at three levels;
1. Knowledge Development
To accelerate crucial technological developments.
Several technological breakthroughs are required for the shipping industry to become zero-emissions. Together with our partners we test early stage 0-emission technologies, encourage the development of new technologies and widespread dissemination of research results with the aim to bridge existing knowledge gaps.
By connecting universities, innovators and tech developers and by facilitating inter-sectoral knowledge sharing we try to close existing knowledge gaps.
2. Business Model Validation
To enable commercialisation of new technologies.
In order to accelerate deployment of zero-emission technologies beyond
one-off demonstration projects, it is important that technologies are validated
at scale and that business cases are built for new concepts. THRUST initiates demonstration projects to showcase technologies at scale and to generate proof-of-concepts with a commercial model that allows for wider uptake.
To materialise our bold ambitions we work together with experts across relevant sectors to show how the energy transition can take place NOW.
3. Market Entry
To accelerate and enable widespread uptake of 0-emission technologies.
For new technologies and concepts to be widely deployed, they need to be able to compete with conventional alternatives. By launching ventures with viable business models that tap into sustainable commercial opportunities we want to show that 0-emission business models can be succesfull.
By growing market share we aim to inspire other market participants to launch zero-emission businesses.
We are happy to launch our new website today on which we will elaborate on the various projects we are working on in the three above areas.
Let’s start with Market Entry
Having identified hydrogen as a key component towards zero-emission shipping, we quickly ran into the challenges the sector faces that prevent change and adoption of radical innovations. Some examples;
- Heavy competition on price, low margins for ship owners and operators
- Lack of international regulations
- Lack of incentives to limit emissions
- Lack of proven clean technologies in maritime environment
- Lack of infrastructure for clean fuels
- Limited storage space on board and limited sailing range using alternative fuels
Besides thinking of ways to tackle above and other challenges to enable sector-wide change in the long run, we started looking for commercial opportunities that could be implemented immediately to show that already today zero-emission business cases are achievable.
When speaking to end-consumers and retail brands we found out that they do have ambitious sustainability targets and find it important to lower the footprint of their processes and logistics, as long as it can be done without increasing costs too significantly. By committing to longer contract periods for example, retailers can incentivise shipowners to invest in cleaner technologies while ensuring they get a return on their investments. Thinking outside the conventional ways of doing business in shipping allowed us to uncover how the dead-lock preventing innovation may be overcome by connecting end-consumers to shipowners and facilitating the discussion on zero-emission options. This new insight excited us as we spotted a commercial opportunity here.
Following this insight we continued discussing the opportunity with the relevant stakeholders and came to the conclusion that we found an important building block to take a next step towards a zero-emission business model, leading to the successful launch of our first venture last year: Future Proof Shipping B.V.
Future Proof Shipping B.V. (FPS) is currently working on a groundbreaking, zero-emission project. It will own and retrofit an inland vessel to sail on fuel cells and green hydrogen for transportation of container cargo between The Netherlands and Belgium.
Although fuel cells and hydrogen have already been tested in the marine industry, this project will be the first to demonstrate such a system for the main propulsion at large scale and in commercial operations.
In 2016, our initiative started with that same name. Since then both the scope and scale of the programme have grown and to better reflect the brand and ambitious scope we are now rebranding our initiative. THRUST and FPS will continue to work closely together towards the common goals that are defined in our Theory of Change.
With FPS focusing on commercial services related to zero-emission shipping, THRUST focuses on initiatives that are not yet commercial but with the aim to launch new ventures that will complement FPS and help change the entire sector.
THRUST also looks at inner-city transport on water, the wider energy transition at sea, essential ‘future proof’ fuels and other zero-emission technologies that are crucial to achieve systemic change in the maritime sector.
Keep an eye out for next blog posts on all these exciting topics!
Our new website aims to inform you about the various initiatives we are working on. In the coming weeks and months we aim to frequently publish articles that will explain our activities in more detail. Sign-up here to be notified when new articles are published.
If you cannot wait and have an urgent question, opportunity or are keen to discuss how we can work together please feel free to reach out to us via the contact page.
Let’s create THRUST together!