UK announces clean marine aim for 2025

The UK government has said it expects zero-emission ferries, cruise and cargo ships will set sail in UK waters within 2 years.

The ambitious plan was announced as the UK announced a £77 million government investment in clean maritime technology, which it believes will create thousands of new jobs and revolutionise the country’s maritime industry.

“This is the first time in UK history the government is intervening to specifically target this level of funding on green maritime tech which is already well developed,” said the Department of Transport (DoT) in a statement announcing the plans. “The funding will take the tech from the factory to the sea – identifying which projects will have a long-term impact in reducing emissions.”

Successful projects must show they could use this money to work with major UK ports and operators to launch a zero-emission vessel by 2025 at the latest.

Examples of such technology include battery electric vessels, shoreside electrical power, ships running on low carbon fuels like hydrogen or ammonia, and wind-assisted ferries.

Transport secretary Mark Harper explained: “When it comes to tackling climate change, we are taking action on all transport modes, which is why we’re making sure our world-leading maritime sector has a greener future.

“This multi-million-pound investment will help the latest tech ideas become reality and ensure UK waters will play host to green cargo ships, ferries and cruises in the next few years.

“Our funding will support a cleaner freight system, a more environmentally friendly tourism industry, and a net-zero maritime sector.”

The Zero Emission Vessels and Infrastructure (ZEVI) competition will invite companies to apply for the funding, which must be used to decarbonise technology both on board and shoreside.

“The investment demonstrates the government’s commitment to a new green age for maritime travel, which is free from emissions, in line with the 1.5-degree temperature target set by the Paris Agreement,” said the DoT.

Defence secretary and shipbuilding tsar, Ben Wallace, added: “Our National Shipbuilding Strategy Refresh set ambitious plans to drive the green maritime revolution as a key step to reaching this government’s net zero targets.

“This investment is a clear statement that we are taking these plans seriously, helping to put the UK at the cutting edge of clean maritime technology while benefitting thousands of UK jobs.”

The competition will be overseen by Innovate UK, which has delivered similar competitions across other UK government departments.

Innovate UK executive director for Net Zero Mike Biddle said: “This latest £77 million investment in clean maritime innovation is another major milestone in the delivery of the wider UK Shipping Office for Reducing Emissions (UK SHORE) programme to accelerate the transition to net zero.

“Innovate UK will work closely with the Department for Transport in delivering the Zero Emission Vessel and Infrastructure competition, resulting in multi-year real world demonstrations of clean maritime technologies around the UK.”

The government has called on universities across the UK to join forces to establish a new Clean Maritime Research Hub, with £7.4 million funding from government and additional funding from academia and industry.

Research in the fundamental science behind clean maritime technologies will be delivered by the hub, building evidence and expertise for the maritime sector. It will also support skills development across the industry and generate knowledge for maritime decision-makers.

The ZEVI fund and Clean Maritime Research Hub are part of the UK SHORE programme, launched in March 2022 with £206 million in funding. UK SHORE aims to tackle shipping emissions and advance the UK towards a sustainable shipping future.