Shipping is the most energy efficient mode of transport, but there is still significant room for improvement regarding energy efficiency and associated emissions. The industry also has a safety challenge with casualty rates far exceeding those of comparable land-based industries

Financial, regulatory, and societal pressures will continue to encourage shipping to lower its environmental impact. This will result in:

  • More vessels designed to offer superior energy efficiency through measures such as improved hydrodynamics, use of lightweight materials, advanced hybrid power generation systems, with energy storage to optimize performance.
  • New, increasingly effective solutions to reduce water and air pollution.
  • Diversification of the fuel mix, with an increasing share of distillate fuels as well as scrubbers for compliance with upcoming low-sulphur requirements.
  • Alternative fuels potentially playing a more important role, with LNG introduced in large ocean-going vessels, and grid electricity becoming standard for cold ironing in ports.

Digitalization will spur automation and positively impact safety and environmental performance. Ships are becoming sophisticated sensor hubs and data generators, with advances in satellite communications improving ship connectivity. Onshore, new cloud technologies will dramatically effect how vessels and their components are designed, built, and tested.

Additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, is another potential game changer.

Technology uptake in shipping does and will vary in different geographies and trade segments. However, the digital era brings ‘through-cycle’ change in and of itself – overturning business models and modes of operation.


Read about Technology Outlook 2025 in the Maritime Impact magazine


Knut Ørbeck-Nilssen
CEO, DNV GL – Maritime

In my vision of the future for shipping I see an industry still at the heart of global trade...

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I see an industry bringing people together, and keeping the world’s economy vital and growing. But the industry itself, the vessels, the infrastructure, and the systems that connect them could change substantially.

The biggest change will be the way ships are powered. The world’s modern fleet will rely on a broader range of fuels and propulsion solutions. On the long haul trades, we could see a move toward dual-fuel engines, or pure gas fuelled, as well as other gases like ethane, and newly developed renewable biofuels becoming a part of the mix.

The use of batteries to complement main engines will also grow, to smooth power delivery, drive auxiliary systems, and maximize engine efficiency. In some sectors, such as ferries and coastal vessels, the trend could even be toward vessels powered completely or largely by electricity.

Connectivity between ship and shore will have vastly improved and will be much more common. The fleet of the future will be continually communicating with its managers and perhaps even with a “traffic control” system that is continually monitoring vessel positions, manoeuvres and speeds.

Fleet managers will be able to analyse this data, enabling them to advise the captain and crew on navigation, weather patterns, fuel consumption, and port arrival. This will help to reduce the risks of human error leading to accidents, increase cost efficiency, and help to improve environmental performance. Some of these data will also be shared. Ports will use the data to help them plan and optimize loading and unloading.

Classification societies will analyse the data to check on the status of machinery and hull, letting the owners and operators know when a survey is required based on the condition of the systems, helping them to reduce downtime and avoid unnecessary maintenance.

At DNV GL we are excited to be a part of this coming transformation. We will continue to work with stakeholders across the maritime world to realize the potential of our industry and make sure that the outlook for shipping tomorrow is brighter than today.


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