A map for much needed change in the Maritime Industry

By Maarten Fonteijn

There is a growing need for the maritime industry to shift towards sustainable growth. Though the industry makes up 90% of the world’s trade, it is responsible for 3% total greenhouse gas emissions and just one large container vessel in the open sea emits as much sulphur as about 19 million cars in city traffic.[1]

If no action is taken, the maritime industries combined global climate impact share is set to increase exponentially in the coming decades. However, there exist many barriers to change in the industry, namely: the lack of regulation for new fuel sources, unvalidated technologies and overall scattered development budgets. The problem presented by these barriers is that not one solution, innovation or development can ‘fix’ the industry.

This is why Enviu built its THRUST program (Towards Hydrogen-based Renewables Used for Ship Transportation), a multi-year initiative to reduce the climate impact created by the maritime industry and accelerate sustainable growth.

To spur systemic change in the maritime industry THRUST supports research, initiates pilot projects and builds new ventures. By uniting industry partners, technology owners and potential solutions we are demonstrating that the adoption of zero-emission technologies is not just possible, but a profitable long term solution with a working business case.

Right now we have both the moment and momentum to transition towards a more sustainable maritime industry. Intense collaboration can make this potential reality.

Mapping change in the industry
With this goal in mind, THRUST has just developed a Green Maritime Initiatives map, an online resource that displays currently active initiatives on an interactive map, both locally in the Netherlands and globally.

‘At Innovation Quarter we have the mission to stimulate the potential for innovation focusing on South Holland. However the maritime industry is an innately global sector and even regional innovators need to collaborate beyond borders and learn from international projects and development. The Green Maritime Initiatives overview put together by THRUST is a great tool to enable this kind of cross border collaboration and accelerate innovation, in South Holland and beyond’.
Edward Gilding, Innovation Quarter




We want this map to exist as a living overview that can constantly be updated, we urge the sector to reach out and help make this vision come true.

Already, the map is clear proof of the growing momentum for green initiatives across the industry, clearly demonstrating that The Netherlands in particular has a wealth of interesting projects currently underway, firmly countering the common claim that the Dutch industry lags behind the rest of the world.

This is where collaboration can happen
A substantial barrier to transition in the maritime industry is the fragmented nature of most existing research and initiatives. Until now there existed no easy way to gain a quick overview of all the work being conducted.

This meant it was easy for projects to remain isolated and miss opportunities for further collaboration, integration or development.

This map provides two key opportunities to remedy this:

  • It will assist players in the sector in better understanding the currently active initiatives avoiding repeat work and reinventing the wheel.
  • It will highlight opportunities for collaboration both regionally and across borders, creating the opportunity to both strengthen existing projects and accelerate the implementation of existing zero-emission technologies into the maritime sector.

‘In order to build a cleaner maritime sector we need collaboration. We need academia, entrepreneurs and corporates to work together. An overview of all green maritime initiatives is important to make sure that within this field all break-through projects find, learn from and work with one another. That way we can focus our efforts on what has not yet been done or to take what has been done to the next level –  creating a cleaner industry together.’
Klaas Visser, TU Delft

Collaboration: The key towards a zero-emission future
Within the industry, there is growing momentum for a transition towards zero-emission fuels. In our talks with stakeholders just a couple of years ago, zero emission fuels like hydrogen were seen as an unknown and a far off utopian goal rather than something that had a realistic shot at mainstream adoption.

Today when we talk to those same stakeholders, there is now widespread recognition that change is on the horizon. Today’s talks are now of adoption so as not to be left behind – a radical departure from the conversations just two years ago.

We know to accomplish such a transition, intense collaboration between fundamental researchers, technology providers, industry players and business builders is not just important, but a necessary prerequisite. We believe our green initiatives map represents a step towards fostering this kind of collaboration.

If there is any information in our map that is inaccurate or you notice that your initiative or an initiative you know is not included, please reach out! You can find Maarten or Tim via their emails  maarten@enviu.org or tim@enviu.org.

If you’re interested in the work we’re doing at THRUST you can get an overview of our current work and active projects on our website.

[1] https://www.cadmatic.com/en/resources/articles/does-one-ship-pollute-as-much-as-50-million-cars/