Shipping cargo container at sea
Maritime sustainability is a key research interest of the Maritime Transport research group. Following are details of a number of funded projects related to the theme of maritime sustainaibilty with a focus on decarbonisation.

Funded projects

Aligning drivers for decarbonisation investment and policy

Decarbonising UK Freight Transport is a network of forty academic and industry partners funded by the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. The network is exploring the questions that need to be answered in order to enable the decarbonisation of energy/propulsion across the road, rail, sea and air freight modes. 
The 'aligning drivers for decarbonisation investment and policy' research theme objective is to gain an understanding of:
  • infrastructure adaptation investments that are aligned with decarbonisation investment
  • UK investment in solutions that are aligned with global policy and transitions, without creating UK competitive disadvantage in trade
  • the solutions (e.g. fuels/logistics) that can leverage local government and air quality regulation driven investment in the short term that will have co-benefits for decarbonization in the medium and longer term.
The project
The overall project examined a multidisciplinary approach focusing on decarbonising freight transport. Like energy and automotive before it, UK freight transport is now on the cusp of a socio-technical transition away from fossil fuel dependency. This transition will require major investment to fleet and infrastructure, cause disruption to assets and business models, and will trigger significant reconfiguration. Whilst the scaling up of fossil phase-out is most likely to occur from the 2030s onwards, the next ten years of investments are critical to enabling the transition, and to mitigating transition risks to the 'hard to abate' freight sectors, and by association UK trade.
Dr Stavros Karamperidis, Maritime Transport Research Group, Plymouth Business School, University of Plymouth
Professor Dominic Hudson, Maritime Engineering group, University of Southampton
Professor Osman Turan, Naval Architecture, Ocean and Marine Engineering group University of Strathclyde

Examine the feasibility and investment required for ports to act as decarbonisation hubs

Ports are areas where cargo changes mode of transport, often involving idling time, which in shipping is frequently used for refuelling vessels. Stemming from net-zero targets, there is a drive towards utilisation of ‘cold ironing’ for ships while they are in port. Trucks presently often wait with their engines running, using fossil-based fuels. As land-based transport moves towards greater electrification and utilisation of batteries and/or Hydrogen tanks as alternative energy sources, they could use waiting time at ports for recharging/replacing or filling these sources. 
The proposed study examined how ports can act as decarbonisation hubs for multiple modes of transport, by examining application of technologies (e.g. smart ports) and how these enhance ‘refuelling’ of modes while they are loaded/unloaded within the port. Furthermore, the project examined the investment required in port infrastructure to enable this role in decarbonising freight. Using mixed methods, this project seeks to understand the approaches investors could take, based on a feasibility study and by identifying solutions to unlock the potential towards net-zero emissions. The study included berth optimisation (for maritime and land operations) and Just In Time arrival for all modes interacting with ports, to assess how this reduces CO2 emissions.
The project actively engaged with prominent figures in maritime decarbonisation and collected views from various leading stakeholders ranging from industry, policy and government. Outcomes of the project were well received from the maritime transport sector.
The project was completed by a multidisciplinary and multi-university team, led by Dr Stavros Karamperidis, head of the Maritime Transport Research Group, University of Plymouth.
The research team included colleagues from:

The potential impact of circular economy concept application in the maritime transport sector

Maritime transport is extremely important for global trade, as 95% of the goods in terms of volume are carried by ships in the UK (DfT, 2021). Ships are the cheapest and the most energy-efficient way to transport goods. Thus, shipping volume is expected to triple by 2050 (OECD, 2019), which makes the decarbonisation and circularity of the maritime industry critical to “enable regenerative resource cycles and build resilience across the UK’s transport systems and sustainable manufacturing capabilities”. 
The maritime industry is part of the UK’s identity, and the shipbuilding industry supports 42,600 jobs and £2.8 billion to the economy (NSO, 2022). In the latest UK shipbuilding strategy document, UK government acknowledged the importance of UK shipbuilding. Thus, a set of new measures, including a £4 billion of investment to support the yards and suppliers, was announced (ibid).
This project examined the potential impact of circular economy concept application in the maritime transport sector. The current position of the maritime industry and the advantages of circular economy applications, as well as the opportunities for stakeholders were demonstrated, through the enabling strategies of life extension. 
Our work demonstrated the potential economic and environmental (raw material and emission) savings for maritime sector. Moreover, through the life extension approaches (structural design changes for newbuilds: maintaining the hull and modifying the equipment throughout the life, condition monitoring of existing and new ships, and retrofitting of existing fleet for the alternative fuels), short-, medium- and long-term transition strategies were proposed for the industry.
Dr Sefer Anil Gunbeyaz, Dogancan Okmus and Dr Stavros Karamperidis

Future ports and marinas: supporting the decarbonisation transition with decision support

The project is funded by the prestigious Transport Research and Innovation Grants (TRIG) which helps SMEs and academics develop innovative research projects to improve the transport sector. It is funded by the Department for Transport’s (DfT) and run by Connected Places Catapult
The goal of the project is to address the urgent need for sustainable energy solutions in the shipping industry. The decision support tool will enable UK ports to transition towards green energy in an efficient and effective manner, contributing to the country’s efforts to achieve its net-zero emissions target by 2050. The research will examine each port’s unique requirements and constraints, taking into consideration the type of activities and location. The tool will also offer guidance on investments needed to implement green energy solutions, making the transition accessible to ports of all sizes, including non-cargo ports.
The project will have economic (growing and levelling up the economy, increasing global impact), environmental (reducing the environmental impact) and societal benefits (improving transport for the user). The project is in line with the UK government's decarbonisation strategy. It will significantly contribute to reaching GHG emissions reduction goals by 2050 by supporting the ports to make the decision to eliminate port/ship-induced emissions through the deployment of green energy solutions for the UK ports. The successful implementation of this tool will enable ports throughout the UK to develop robust decarbonisation strategies and scientifically supported decision-making to help UK's absolute net-zero targets by 2050.
The project is building on existing knowledge for maritime decarbonisation projects, that the team has generated the last ten years based on funding secured from various research institutes. 
Dr Stavros Karamperidis, University of Plymouth with colleagues from the Naval Architecture, Ocean & Marine Engineering group, University of Strathclyde, such as Dr Sefer Anil Gunbeyaz, Professor Osman Turan, Dr Rafet Emek and Dogancan Okmus and support from the Port of Plymouth

Influencing policy

UK Government consultation

Course to Zero consultation: UK domestic maritime decarbonisation response form (DfT)

Dr Stavros Karamperidis University of Plymouth, head of the Maritime Transport Research Group, Plymouth Business School,  Dr Richard Pemberton and Sarah Fear from the Faculty of Science and Engineering from the University of Plymouth, provided a response to 22 key questions asked from the Department for Transport with regards to the achievement of net zero maritime transportation in UK domestic shipping. The information provided was based on deep knowledge that the team had and helped the policy makers to understand the complex subject of UK maritime transport domestic decarbonisation. 


The Department for Transport launched the UK Shore consultation in order to take maritime sector “back to the future” with green investment. Based on the deep knowledge for maritime decarbonisation the team provided consultation to the UK Government on 21 key questions regarding how to achieve UK domestic maritime decarbonisation and net zero emissions. We provided detailed responses based on real facts/data that the team had with regards maritime decarbonisation. The multidisciplinary team comprised Dr Stavros Karamperidis, head of the Maritime Transport Research Group, University of Plymouth, Professor Dominic Hudson, (Maritime Engineering group), University of Southampton and Professor Osman Turan, Dr Dogancan Uzun, Dr Sefer Gunbeyaz, Mr Dogancan Okumus from the Naval Architecture, Ocean & Marine Engineering group, University of Strathclyde.

IMO MEPC (Marine Environment Protection Committee)

Energy efficiency of ships: Proposal to amend corrections factors and voyage adjustments for CII calculations (CII Guidelines, G5) for self-unloading bulk carriers engaged in transloading and transhipment operations.
Professor Osman Turan, Head of Maritime Human Factors Center, Department of Naval Architecture, Ocean & Marine Engineering, University of Strathclyde, and Dr Stavros Karamperidis, Head Maritime Transport Research Group, Plymouth Business School, University of Plymouth conducted a study which was submitted to the IMO MEPC (Marine Environment Protection Committee) 80 session with regards some significant operational details of self-unloading bulk carriers performing transloading and transhipment operations, and why the calculation of the attained CII (Carbon Intensity Indicator) for these self-unloading bulk carriers needs to take all these differences into account. 
The document provides evidence that transloading and transhipment operations reduce carbon emissions compared to standard bulk carrier operations and suggests how to account for these highly variable, but significant, energy demands that occur on those self-unloading bulk carrier types when calculating their attained CII and ratings. The document proposes a correction factor for self-unloading bulk carriers that mainly perform Ship-to-Ship (STS) transfer and transhipment of cargo due to shallow water and the lack of port facilities preventing large ships from berthing. 

Related projects


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