The latest cleaner and greener funding opportunities

Mersey Maritime members learn more about the latest cleaner and greener funding opportunities

Blog from Simon Eardley – Head of Partnerships and Policy & Regional Cluster Development Manager, Mersey Maritime

Decarbonisation of the maritime sector is one of the biggest challenges faced by the industry today as we get ever closer to the UK Government’s net zero ambition target of 2050. Mersey Maritime members were able to hear about the latest significant funding opportunity to support innovators in the industry deliver their own aspirations and project ideas to realise this ambition at a special event earlier this week (18 July 2023).

In March 2022, the Department for Transport announced the establishment of UK SHORE (the UK Shipping Office for Reducing Emissions) together with the most substantial funding ever seen for maritime decarbonisation in the shape of £206 million. Since then, a number of funding rounds have been released, typically in the form of multiple ‘Clean Maritime Demonstration Competition’ (CMDC) opportunities, the latest of which was announced on 07 July 2023.

CMDC4 will see £34 million made available with prospective bids being assessed against a range of criteria to see how likely they will deliver on real world demonstrations of clean maritime technology. This can include everything from creating alternative fuel sources for freight ships to pushing the limits of battery powered vessels.

This fourth round of funding brings the total invested through the CMDC to £129 million. The competition looks to foster and promote the continued progress towards reaching our net zero goals through the development of novel and sustainable technologies that will help connect people, goods and services in a cleaner, greener way.

Maritime in the Liverpool City Region is known to be worth some £5 billion to the economy and has depth and representation across every sector that the industry has to offer. It includes some of the most iconic names in the industry from the shipyard at Cammell Laird to the Port of Liverpool operated under the banner of Peel Ports Group to some of the most renowned and longstanding shipping companies in the world such as Bibby Group, Maersk and Atlantic Container Line. Together with this there’s a whole supply chain of small to medium sized businesses, entrepreneurs and innovators involved in every aspect of maritime related business. The sector in the North West and much wider across the whole UK is one of the most competitive and innovative in the world and this new funding opportunity is testament to that. Mersey Maritime shares the ambition of so many of its members to help the UK transition to a cleaner and greener industry – it is absolutely essential.

We were once again delighted to welcome colleagues from UK SHORE, Innovate UK and Innovate UK KTN who delivered the core presentations to members and outlined the detail of this latest opportunity. At the same time, Maritime UK detailed its own recently established ‘Hydrogen Fuels Group’ which brings together industry representatives with a keen interest in how hydrogen might play a significant part in the decarbonisation of the industry, a theme and project focus that might be one of the areas that CMDC4 consortia hones in on. Finally, the University of Liverpool presented on the Centre for Doctoral Training and collaborative opportunities for research between academia and industry with a particular emphasis on net zero maritime energy solutions.

This area of work is genuinely the most exciting aspect of the industry at the moment. It was fantastic to see the interest from our members to realise their own ambitions in this major growth opportunity, from which North West based businesses have already benefited.

A total of 105 projects across the UK have been awarded more than £95 million in the first 3 rounds of the CMDC to support the design and development of clean maritime solutions towards commercialisation. This includes a feasibility study into the decarbonisation of Service Operation Vessels, both new build and retrofit, in a project led by Bibby Marine Services and their partners Expleo and Houlder. This CMDC project aimed to investigate how Bibby Marine could deliver its target of achieving net zero for its fleet of SOVs by 2040 by looking at liquid hydrogen and a methanol fuel solid oxide fuel cell with CCD. The power of the project is demonstrated in the key achievements arising from the study: the liquid hydrogen option being considered feasible with the possibility of an 83% reduction in green house gases and the fuel cell potentially delivering a 93% reduction, alongside an annual saving in excess of a £1 million.

The North West has the opportunity once again to pitch its key innovative businesses forward to build consortia and maximise the possibility of securing part of this CMDC funding. Mersey Maritime will play its part in promoting this latest funding round further and looks forward to supporting our members in their aspirations within this vital area of work.

CMDC4 in brief:

  • £34 million funding available
  • Competition opens 2 August 2023 and closes 11:00 on 27 September 2023
  • Projects run 1 April 2024 – 31 March 2025 (12 months)
  • Project costs £100k – £8m (across all strands)
  • Structure – 3 strands:
    • Strand 1 – Vessels or infrastructure demonstrations
    • Strand 2 – Vessels and infrastructure combined demonstrations
    • Strand 3 – Feasibility studies and pre-deployment trials
  • Strand 1 and 2 projects must include 2 week demonstration period
  • Funding rates as per competition scope

Full details of CMDC4 are available here:

News release announcing the competition: Cleaner shipping gets £34 million boost with next round of innovative tech funding – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

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