Shipping must start to think about the steel it uses in addressing future scope 3 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions concerns, a new study advises.
The Sustainable Shipping Initiative (SSI) has just published a 35-page green steel and shipping report in which it makes clear the need for collaboration between the two industries to improve the carbon footprint of a ship’s full lifecycle.
Steel is the primary shipbuilding material, making over 75% of a vessel by weight, and the steel industry is responsible for 7-9% of global GHG emissions.
Current decarbonisation efforts in shipping focus on and address emissions at the operational phase of a ship’s lifecycle.
However, for shipping to decarbonise in a way that future-proofs the industry to 2050 and beyond, the SSI has advised that shipping needs greater recognition of the emissions and sustainability aspects of the materials that make up a ship, as well as their lifespans, repairability, and re-use.
The new report focuses on steel as the primary material of a vessel and uses the following definition of green steel: “steel that is certified as meeting the highest levels of environmental, social and governance performance (ESG), rather than only addressing the release of greenhouse gases”.
Using green steel for shipbuilding is possible, and demand for this is starting to grow. SteelZero signatories, which include shipowner A.P. Moller-Maersk and container manufacturer CIMC, commit to using 50% lower embodied emissions steel by 2030.
The report identified drivers and barriers to closing the loop on steel in shipping, including the challenge of scrap steel supply, growing regulation around sustainability and emissions reporting, as well as the potential for tools, such as material passports, to enable demand and uptake of green steel in shipping.
The need for traceability and transparency across the steel lifecycle was identified as a key lever to shore up demand for green steel in shipbuilding, creating a system that allows green steel users to prove its GHG emissions reductions and other sustainability credentials.
Andreea Miu, SSI’s head of decarbonisation, said:“The shipping and steel sectors are interconnected and there are untapped opportunities for the two to work together to decarbonise sustainably. As a demand sector for green steel, shipping can support the steel sector’s decarbonisation journey while simultaneously addressing a source of its own scope 3 emissions. At the same time, the steel industry stands to benefit both from sustainable, zero emission maritime transport and from scrap steel sourced from end-of-life vessels.”
Amelia Hipwell, decarbonisation innovation manager at Lloyd’s Register Maritime Decarbonisation Hub, commented: “By embedding key circularity principles into the way design and build of ships are evaluated, and tracing the origin and type of materials during the construction, we have the opportunity to rethink material flows within a ship’s lifecycle and how they are inter-connected with other sectors.”
Imabari Shipbuilding announced this February that Kobe Steel has started selling a low-carbon steel which it will use for a cape due for delivery next year to an unspecified owner. Using hot briquetted iron in its blast furnace, Kobe Steel is able to reduce CO2 output by more than 20%.
Currently, Sweden is leading the world in the commercialisation of large-scale green steel production, with its H2 Green Steel plant set to start producing steel from green hydrogen in 2024.