This past month took me across the country and back to listen to keynotes, engage in dialogue, and learn about the latest innovation in clean mobility across the transportation sector. My first stop was at a conference called Move 2022 in Austin, Texas, and the second was American Greentech and Decarbonizing Maritime Shipping Forum in Miami, Florida.
In walking the show floor and joining the conferences’ many breakout sessions, one thing became apparent—despite the mode of transportation, whether on land or at sea, companies across the sector are moving in the same direction—decarbonization—but are at different stages of technological and commercial maturity. Move 2022 featured presentations from large established companies, such as Ford and GM, while also providing a platform for start-ups to pitch new ideas, business models, and technologies. Billions of dollars have already been invested with trillions more to follow in an effort to electrify light duty transportation. Biofuels and renewable natural gas have been supplied to markets on the West Coast in growing quantities to incrementally decrease the amount of carbon emitted per vehicle mile traveled.
Move 2022 wasn’t the biggest transportation conference I’ve been to this year, but it did provide a sense of clarity, focus, and direction. The American Greentech and Decarbonizing Shipping Conference was a much smaller event, but similar talking points were shared throughout keynotes and presentations. Bud Darr, the Executive Vice President of Maritime Policy and Government Affairs for MSC Group, gave the keynote speech, which in summary stressed that “decarbonization is not an option.” According to Bud, the influence of regulation, customer-demand, and the realities of sea-level rise on their core markets have resulted in a significant change in perspective for many large companies like MSC, Caribbean, Disney and others in the last two years.
Still, while the automotive industry is transitioning from strategic decisions to tactical ones, the maritime industry is facing huge doubts regarding which technology or technologies will reign supreme; hydrogen, ammonia, biofuels? The scale is also dramatically larger when considering many ocean going vessels are the size of skyscrapers and cost upwards of $200 million dollars each. Ship investors are having to make a pretty tough bet on whether any one of these fuels will be available across major and minor ports over the 30-year life of the asset.
A common thread throughout both conferences was a focus on incremental improvement. There is no magic bullet to address the climate crisis and there is no single technology that will result in overnight change. Instead, businesses like GO EVE and Armach Robotics will work to reduce carbon by decreasing the upfront cost of new EV charging equipment or increasing maritime fuel economy. These ideas, when scaled individually, can have a modest impact. But, these ideas, when coupled with innovation across the transportation sector, such as better ocean current forecasts, connected shipping routes, aerodynamic truck technology, and improved vehicle to grid capabilities can have a dramatic impact.
At 3Degrees, we are also working to incrementally add value to the broader ecosystem while building on the capabilities of different departments internally and partners externally. Moving towards a decarbonized future, we hope to fully expand across all segments of transportation, including maritime, to join efforts and generate an even larger impact. If you would like to learn more about our transportation decarbonization offerings, please get in touch today.