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Wärtsilä sets out visions for the future of the shipping industry

Published by , Editor - Hydrocarbon Engineering
Tanks and Terminals,

Wärtsilä has set out its visions for the future of the shipping industry. The work on future visions has been prompted by the inevitable effect that growing global energy demand and increasingly stringent environmental legislation to combat climate change will have on the shipping sector. Additionally, Wärtsilä assesses various emerging trends, such as sharing economies, new business models enabled by the new digital universe, the huge growth in energy storage capacity, and new affordable 'green' energy sources, since they represent both challenges and opportunities for the future of shipping.

"We accept the challenges created by the developments currently taking place. Wärtsilä is increasing its speed of re-invention; not just internally but in cooperation with our customers and partners, so that the industry can be assured of having the technologies ready and available to meet the new requirements," said Roger Holm, President, Wärtsilä Marine Solutions.

In its 'Visions of Future Shipping' paper, Wärtsilä presents different scenarios that could shape the way that shipping companies operate in the future. These scenarios have each been identified under different names, as follows:


By taking advantage of advanced controls and communication between autonomous components, systems, and vessels, shipping fleets could be operated in convoys. The fuel savings created by vessels closely following each other results from the lower entrance speed of water ahead of the aft vessel. By optimising the operations significant fuel reductions could be achieved.

Furthermore, through the use of system autonomy, artificial intelligence, and advanced connectivity, it is envisioned that the trailing ships could be operated with fewer crew members. Advanced communication technologies will also rapidly increase the sharing of information, which will save time and optimise the allocation of cargo to vessels.

ZERO: floating distribution hubs

Another scenario could be to have artificial islands along the main shipping routes producing emissions free fuels from solar or wind for powering green energy sources. Clean energy production is becoming a global priority, and its influence on the shipping industry is expected to be felt more and more within the near future.

Exergo: unlimited energy storage

Large investments will drive energy storage using battery technology. Wärtsilä believes that battery energy density will increase substantially during the coming years. This will allow ships to operate in sensitive areas silently and with no exhaust emissions.

Z3: green energy

To provide reliable, emission free power without upfront investment, highly reliable energy sources and monitoring from the shore through advanced connectivity will be required. This concept envisions the supply of energy for propulsion on an 'as you go' basis.

LIITOS: working together

For efficient cargo sharing, access to the same information by all global operators would ensure, for example, that no container ship sails cargo free. This sharing of assets could be achieved by use of a digital tool.

BEAN to CUP: manufacturing en route

Factory ships may one day be manufacturing while transporting materials from one market to another. Apart from saving valuable time, this concept could have substantial economic benefits. For example, coffee beans being transported to Europe and Asia from South America could be processed during the voyage so that the ready product is available immediately upon the ship's arrival in port. Similarly, the quality of seasonal crops could be enhanced by having the ship begin processing soon after harvesting.

Adapted from press release by Rosalie Starling

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