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Climate Action for the Shipping Industry: Some Perspectives on the Role of Nuclear Power in Maritime Decarbonization


The shipping industry is a major enabler of globalization, trade, commerce and human welfare. But it is still heavily served by fossil fuels, which make it one of the foremost greenhouse gas emitting sectors operational today. It is also one of the hardest to abate segments of the transport industry. As part of the economy-wide climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts, it is necessary to consider a low carbon energy transition for this segment as well. This study examines the potential role of nuclear power and cogeneration towards greening this sector and identifies the associated techno-commercial and policy challenges associated with the transition. Quantitative estimates of the economics and investments associated with some of the possible routes are also presented. Alternatives such as nuclear-powered ships along commercial maritime trading routes, ships working on nuclear derived green hydrogen, ammonia or other sustainable power fuels will enable not only decarbonization of the shipping industry but also allow further diversification of the nuclear industry through non-electric applications of nuclear power and new sector coupling opportunities. In the run-up to the UNFCCC-COP28 meeting in 2023 in UAE, nuclear equipped nations heavily engaged in and dependent on maritime trade and commerce should definitely consider nuclear driven decarbonization of shipping and some of the options presented here as part of their climate action strategies.

Related subjects: Applications & Pathways
Countries: Canada ; Egypt ; India

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