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Cooperative explorative research on energy systems in the marine sector

A systems perspective on how small companies and port authorities can meet the need of cleaner shipping and manage the rapid technology and policy changes.


The shipping industry as a large socio-technical system is difficult to transform, yet some actions have been in place towards more sustainable innovation paths. Significant number of challenges in decarbonising the Swedish marine transport sector remain due to lack of market-ready low-carbon technologies and fuels, particularly for small commercial companies which operate relatively old vessels. We have undertaken explorative studies and identified unexplored research topics on the need to research on socio-technical transitions to a fossil-free society, focusing on small commercial companies in domestic shipping and port infrastructure.

Aims and objectives

Question 1: How can small companies meet the needs of cleaner shipping operations and expansion plans based on new fuels, new technologies, policies, business models, transport strategies and societal services from a system perspective?

Question 2: How do port authorities manage the rapid technology and policy changes while providing the required services for cleaner shipping operation efficiently?

Project plan

Applied interdisciplinarity

Marine industry is a complex industry involving many actors from engine manufactures to ship owners to port operators. The transformation strategies towards cleaner shipping should be studied carefully from different aspects such as technical and economic potential, safety, logistics, reliability, competitiveness, and environmental-market-social impacts. For example, following aspects should be consider in suggesting a single change in fuel:

  • Engine and fuel system (e.g. new vessel cost, retrofit potential and required investment, maintenance cost…)
  • Fuel availability and cost (e.g. fuel cost, availability, reliability, long-term global supply, fuel consumption penalty󠄄…)
  • Indirect cost (i.e. reduced range between bunkering, reduced cargo capacity, increased waiting time in port…)
  • Safety and logistics (e.g. port logistics, investment on new bunkering/storage technology, approvals, certification, and personnel training󠄄…)
  • Environmental impact (e.g󠄄. port compliance, emission control areas, GHG reduction…)
  • Social and political (e.g󠄄. public acceptance, support measures…)

This project is built on the interdisciplinary research and spanning expertise related to resource efficiency, energy, climate, transportation systems, sustainability, and industrial transformations from various complementary disciplines and perspectives, including from environmental, technical and social sciences, and business and management. The research demonstrates cooperation and collaboration among key players from research institutions and universities, industries and authority. We identify niche based on common assumptions, restrictions, and principles to create new knowledge and theoretical and practical solutions, working together to collect the same synergistic results.



Energy transitions in shipping: global perspective (In book: Climate Change and Technology) – to be submitted

KTH collaborations

Energy Technology󠄄
Industrial Economics and Management


Oct 2020 – ?

Project participants