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New Groups Target Sustainable Shipping, Global Smart-Grid Deployment

Leading players in the shipping and smart-grid industries have formed new groups aimed at dealing with environmental and technological challenges in their respective industries.

While the shipping initiative will focus on creating a sustainable agenda for the next 30 years, the smart-grid group will work on accelerating the deployment of smart grid around the world.

Maersk Line, Gearbulk, BP Shipping, Lloyd’s Register and ABN Amro, together with Forum for the Future and WWF, have launched their Sustainable Shipping Initiative (SSI). The group will address challenges and opportunities that the industry faces over the next 30 years and what it needs to do to ensure that shippers remain profitable while being socially and environmentally responsible. The findings will be used as a resource for the entire industry.

“Shipping plays a vital role in global trade and affects the lives of billions of people around the world,” said Jonathon Porritt, founder director of Forum for the Future. “Smart shipping companies can see the way the wind is blowing in terms of today’s pressing sustainability issues, and leadership of this kind is crucial to the future success of the whole industry.”

The SSI will look at a number of issues that will impact the shipping industry including climate change and new weather patterns, oil shortages and carbon taxes, changing markets and cargoes particularly in Asia, and piracy and marine governance. The group will also look at new ship designs and other technological developments.

“Climate change is a huge challenge for all, and we believe that shipping is not only part of the problem, we can also be part of the solution. We hope that the SSI will deliver an action plan that can strengthen the role of the shipping industry in shaping a low-carbon future,” says Jacob Sterling, head of Climate and Environment in Maersk Line.

Maersk already has been making some strides. In March, Maersk, with the help of Lloyd’s Register, launched a two-year project to test the viability of bio-diesel in marine engines. The shipping line also has cut fuel consumption on major routes by as much as 30 percent by cutting the top cruising speed of its ships in half over the past two years.

The founding members plan to recruit other leading organizations to join SSI  including global shipping firms, shippers and financiers.

Members will identify key “megatrends” that impact shipping, and prepare a case for action as a resource for the entire industry.

According to the group, the ultimate goal is to gain support across the industry for this action plan, which may include technical and engineering initiatives, policy proposals, development programs for industry leaders and marketing and communications plans.

CEOs and board-level representatives will launch this case for action at a members’ summit in 2011. This will set the agenda for creating a sustainable shipping industry.

In the utility market, seven national smart-grid organizations launched the Global Smart Grid Federation (GSGF), an international organization to promote best practices and to help accelerate the deployment of smart grid around the world. The founding members include GridWise Alliance (U.S.), India Smart Grid Forum, Japan Smart Community Alliance, Korean Smart Grid Association, Smart Grid Australia, SmartGridIreland, and SmartGrid Canada.

“Through the mutual exchange of ideas and the sharing of knowledge about smart grid deployment in our respective countries and industries, we can help overcome barriers to smart grid deployment,” said Guido Bartels, the new chairman of the GSGF and chairman of the GridWise Alliance.

In addition to working on some of the most challenging obstacles to global smart-grid implementation, GSGF will work with government policymakers to execute a national agenda on smart grid, helping governments understand these challenges, including consumer engagement, innovation and capacity building.

The need for the organization was identified after leaders of the 17 partners of the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate (MEF) developed a Technical Action Plan (TAP) in December 2009 to encourage coordinated smart-grid development and deployment.

Based on bilateral collaboration agreements previously in place between the GridWise Alliance and other national smart- grid organizations, the GridWise Alliance invited the six other organizations to join in creating GSGF to formalize a global partnership to execute action plans under the Smart Grid TAP.

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