【DE】The world’s leading maritime trade fair SMM is back  

After four years of presence break, the maritime economy will meet from the 6th to the 9th. September again in Hamburg at SMM 2022. The opening press conference of the world’s leading trade fair gave a foretaste of the next four SMM days. Supply chain problems, alternative drive technologies, e-fuels: Prominent representatives from politics and business have discussed the current challenges of the industry. Conclusion: Shipbuilding companies and suppliers are ready for the maritime transition – and the SMM gives important impulses for implementation.




Photo: Hamburg Messe + Congress



The prominent press conference of the SMM marked today the start of four exciting days on which the maritime industry meets, exchanges and networks in Hamburg. Bernd Aufderheide, Chairman of the Management Board of Hamburg Messe und Congress GmbH, was enthusiastic that the entire exhibition center is occupied, and an exchange on a personal level is finally possible again. “I am proud that we have succeeded in attracting so many high-ranking representatives of companies and institutions and proven experts on the part of the exhibitors, but also at the accompanying conferences.” The head of the fair had invited top-class guests to deepen the core topic of the SMM, the maritime transition:


  • Claudia Müller, Maritime Coordinator of the Federal Government
  • Uwe Lauber, CEO MAN Energy Solutions
  • Lars Robert Pedersen, Deputy Secretary General BIMCO
  • Steve Gordon, Managing Director Clarksons Research
  • Wolfram Guntermann, Director Regulatory Affairs Hapag-Lloyd AG


Resilient and reserved

Closed ports, overstretched supply chains, crew change problems: Corona has had the world firmly under control over the past two years. Moderator David Patrician wanted to know from Steve Gordon, Managing Director at Clarkson Research, whether the green agenda in shipping has lost importance as a result. “The topic has become even more important,” Gordon said. He is impressed by how well shipping is controlled by the crisis: “The shipping market was remarkably resilient during Corona.” A look at the worldwide order books shows that the shipyards are fully booked for the next two to three years. “The proportion of new orders with alternative drives is over 40 percent” – but including many new buildings that run with LNG liquefied natural gas. Methanol is “a big issue,” says Gordon, but overall shipowners are still very cautious when it comes to e-fuels. “We are only at the beginning of a huge transition to new fuels, with a fleet renewal program that will require massive investment, technological changes and innovation,” Gordon said. There is not a lack of money – “in the pandemic shipping has earned well” – but in the regulatory framework.


No time, no resources

What alternative fuel should shipowners now rely on? There is no clear answer to this so far. The World Maritime Organization IMO has only set the goal of no longer emitting emissions by 2100, the industry itself is more ambitious. Dr. Uwe Lauber is not enough either. Technically, the maritime energy transition is now possible, said the CEO of MAN Energy Solutions. “The good news is: If the legal framework is right, shipping can be environmentally friendly and will no longer emit CO2 from 2045,” says Lauber. However, this could still not be fast enough to be in line with the Paris Agreement. The growth of industry alone will lead to a massive emission overrun by 2045 if we do not act now.” MAN ES shows that the technology is there at its SMM stand in hall A3. There, the company presents an engine that can be operated with both methanol and conventional fuels. For 2024, MAN has announced the first engine to run on ammonia.


But what good is the technology for shipowners if they don’t have enough fuel, asked Lars Robert Pedersen. The BIMCO Deputy Secretary-General sees a massive problem in the lack of energy resources. The availability of sustainable energy for the transition is both the question and the answer to the decarbonization of shipping. The extent is enormous. Shipping should not wait to develop sustainable energy, but use all possibilities to improve the efficiency of the fleet,” said Pedersen, referring to the energy crisis exacerbated by the war in Ukraine.


Responsibility in demand

Claudia Müller, the Maritime Coordinator of the Federal Government, assured support for the maritime industry. “Germany’s top priority at the moment is to give the industry planning security for the necessary investments and to expand the production of low-carbon and carbon-free fuels and technologies.” In doing so, she referred to the strong expansion rates that exist worldwide for renewable energies. In the future, solar parks will be built in North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, large offshore and onshore wind projects in Chile, Australia is also entering on a large scale. While there is hardly any way around electric fuels in international shipping, the portfolio is larger at close range: There are also applications for fuel cells and completely battery-electric drives. “The question that we always have to ask ourselves beyond shipping is: Where can I use which energy source most meaningfully and efficiently?” says Müller.


When looking to the future, however, one should not forget the current fleet – because ships have a service life of up to 25 years. One of the most important adjustment screws is the increase in efficiency. “There is still room for improvement in shipping,” Müller emphasized.


Hapag-Lloyd is already using this transition phase in a targeted manner to improve the performance of the moving fleet. “The key to this is retrofit programs,” said Wolfram Guntermann, Director Regulatory Affairs Fleet, Hapag-Lloyd AG. The fifth largest container shipping company in the world relies, for example, on retrofitting with highly efficient propellers from the German manufacturer MMG (Mecklenburger Metallguss GmbH). “The propellers will reduce both energy consumption and CO2 emissions by ten to 13 percent,” explained Guntermann. Hapag-Lloyd invests a three-digit million amount in the fleet modernization program. As early as 2030, the shipping company wants to reduce the CO2 intensity of its own ships by 30 percent.


The example shows that shipping is on the right track, even if, for example, there are still many questions unanswered with regard to fuels of the future. Bernd Aufderheide, however, is confident that SMM will provide the necessary impulses for the maritime energy transition. “I am sure that the visitors and exhibitors will go home after four intensive days with many important suggestions – and come back in 2024.”


The SMM was officially opened by the patron of the SMM, Chancellor Olaf Scholz, in a video message in which he emphasized the importance of the maritime economy: “That ship has sailed (is a phrase) we often use to mark a lost opportunity. But for you as participants at SMM every ship that leaves the port and set sails is an opportunity. And you came to exactly the right place to discuss this opportunities,” said Scholz. He also referred to the role that shipping plays in the transport of alternative energy sources such as methanol and hydrogen – all topics that are on stage at SMM.


The SMM is from Tuesday, 6. September, to Thursday, 8. September, from 10:00 to 18:00 and Friday, 9. September, open until 4:00 p.m. Journalists can register online for the SMM here.


About the SMM

The world’s leading trade fair for the maritime economy will take place from the 6th to the 9th. September 2022 in Hamburg. Around 2,000 exhibiting people and over 40,000 visitors from more than 100 countries are expected. SMM covers the entire value chain of the industry in eleven halls, brings together executives from all parts of the world and is the platform for innovation. In the focus of the 30th SMM is the maritime energy transition, digital transformation and climate change. In 2021, the SMM had taken place online due to coronavirus. This year, the community will meet again live at the exhibition center as well as in the top-class specialist conferences. SMM 2022 is under the patronage of Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

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