News: Government launches £20m Clean Maritime Demonstration Competition

By: Ben Murray

Chief Executive
020 7417 2837 bmurray@maritimeuk.org

Hydrogen-powered vessels and e-charge points at ports could soon become a common sight on our seas and in our coastal towns, thanks to a £20 million competition launched today [22 March 2021] to make innovative green maritime ideas a reality.

The fund will be used to support the development of prototype vessels and port infrastructure that could then be rolled out widely – propelling the sector towards net zero as the UK prepares to host the COP26 climate change summit in November.

The Government is encouraging scientists and academics to collaborate with UK shipping, ports and shipbuilders to enter ambitious proposals into the competition, driving economic growth, revitalising coastal communities, creating thousands of jobs, and positioning the country as a leader in the field. The trials will enable companies to test the new technologies, with a view to them being developed commercially if proven to be successful, helping us build back greener from the pandemic.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said:

“We have a proud shipbuilding history, and together with industry, I am determined to build on that as we look to develop the innovations of the future and meet our net-zero target.

“We are revolutionising maritime technology, and from electric boats to hydrogen ports, we will change the way this country sails forever, and bring jobs and prosperity to the UK.”

Today’s competition launch comes as the Government prepares to publish its transformational Transport Decarbonisation Plan which sets out how all modes of transport – sea, rail, road and aviation – can make the switch to net zero. 

Maritime UK Chair Sarah Kenny said:

“Decarbonising the maritme sector is essential to meeting the UK's net zero targets. This initial £20m competition will help identify the green propulsion and infrastructure solutions to get us there and follows government’s recognition of the need to provide additional support to decarbonise maritime in its ten point plan launched in October.

“The industry will be bringing forward some fantastic proposals to demonstrate the UK’s capability and innovation ahead of COP26 and a possible Comprehensive Spending Review later in the year where we plan to submit an ambitious bid to secure the further funding needed to kickstart a world-leading decarbonisation programme.”

Maritime Minister Robert Courts said:

"This is a turning point for the UK’s maritime sector. It’s an opportunity for businesses to develop the technologies of the future, not only protecting our environment but driving economic growth.

“I urge this country’s best thinkers to put their green ideas forward and help us deliver a better, cleaner maritime sector.” 

The Maritime Minister confirmed the news ahead of the launch of two Government funded studies focused on achieving net zero in both the recreational craft sector and offshore wind sectors.  

Developed in partnership with the Carbon trust, the new study on recreational craft will set out how we can overcome the barriers to the supply of, and demand for, zero carbon recreational craft. It will make a series of recommendations to governments and industry, including on using alternative fuels, which will be published in late Spring. Leisure boats and sports vessels are vital to the UK economy, worth almost £1.6bn in annual exports and employing 40,000 people across the UK.

This follows the Prime Minister’s 10-point plan, which positions the UK at the forefront of shipbuilding and maritime technology to help push forward low carbon travel.