New joint survey on the shipping industry’s fuel choices on the path to net zero

Published — April 19, 2023

Industry leaders know they must adopt greener fuels in order to decarbonize. Is a multifuel future in store?

Shipping companies—encouraged by regulation, customer demand, investor pressure, and internal goals—are searching for ways to decarbonize their fleets. More than 95 percent of ships today are powered by internal-combustion engines (ICEs) that run on various petroleum products, such as heavy fuel oil (HFO), marine gas oil (MGO), and marine diesel oil (MDO). Any comprehensive effort to reduce emissions will require finding greener fuel to propel vessels across the water.

To understand how industry leaders are thinking about future fuels, the Global Centre for Maritime Decarbonisation, the Global Maritime Forum, and the Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller Center for Zero Carbon Shipping recently conducted a survey (with analytical support provided by McKinsey) of 29 shipping companies. Collectively, these companies own and operate fleets—including container ships, tankers, dry bulkers, gas carriers, car carriers, cruise ships, tugs, and offshore vessels—comprising roughly 20 percent of the world’s total capacity. Respondents, professionals responsible for the decarbonization efforts of these organizations, were asked about their plans and projections to adopt cleaner fuels and efficiency boosting technologies.