In the run-up to the 9th National Maritime Conference, German trade journal Schiff & Hafen spoke with Dr. Ulrich Dohle, Chairman and CEO of Rolls-Royce Power Systems AG. Dr. Dohle was attending the conference at the invitation of the German government’s Coordinator for the Maritime Industry, Uwe Beckmeyer, and took part in the panel discussion on “Blue Growth – national and global“ as a representative of the maritime equipment supply industry.
On 19-20 October 2015, the National Maritime Conference tooks place in Bremerhaven. The German government sees the conference as the most important dialogue platform for securing the competitiveness and future viability of the maritime industry in Germany. How do you assess the potential of the maritime sectors for Germany as a business location, Dr. Dohle?
The maritime industry is responsible for more than 400,000 skilled and well-paid jobs,? makes a significant contribution to the development of the economy in Germany and is one of the key factors behind Germany’s export strength. The maritime industry is a key industry that creates added value throughout the Federal Republic. It is an industry where research is carried out leading to the development and manufacture of high-tech products, which – as is the case with drive and propulsion systems, for example – regularly provide incentives for other sectors. At the same time, the maritime industry is facing enormous challenges in terms of growth and competition. Environmental and climate protection standards are becoming increasingly stringent all over the world. As a result of the promising market potential and greater strategic awareness in the maritime industry due to the presence of numerous competitors worldwide, German companies now find themselves having to deal with very tough international cut-throat competition.
The key challenge these days is to create circumstances that will lead to continuing growth in trade volume and will at the same time ensure that the environment benefits from a significant reduction in emissions. To deal successfully with such a challenge, the maritime industry, and the maritime manufacturing sector in particular, can make a decisive contribution, particularly if they focus on green and high-tech solutions. The maritime industry has a very important strategic role to play for Germany as a business centre, on both an economic and technological level, and is also one that offers growing potential as a result of the systematic use of innovative technologies.
The global economic situation has rarely been so complex and so challenging as it is today – what can the German maritime industry do to change the situation? In other words, how can we deal with the challenges we now face?
?Maintaining and increasing the systems capability of the maritime industry are vitally important factors for the continuing positive development of Germany as a centre of maritime business. The systems capability of the companies competing in this field includes full control of all the individual processes, ranging from research and development to production and after sales support, maintenance and service even while the systems are in operation. Having companies with full systems capability is essential to the Germany maritime industry, because it is fundamental to the creation of innovative solutions and thus to the manufacture of attractive and competitive products. A maritime industry with systems capability will be able to secure and create long-term employment and training of high-value in Germany and will thus remain attractive for highly qualified naval architects and maritime specialists in the long-term.
What is absolutely vital for the future viability of the maritime industry is not simply its ability to build special-purpose vessels that are powerful and safe, but primarily its ability to deliver environmental compatibility and ensure that resources are used carefully for all system components over their entire life cycle. The increasingly demanding climate targets and environmental regulations are now having more and more impact on the international maritime sector as a whole. It is imperative that no excessive burden is placed on the natural environment and this must therefore be assessed in terms of the environmental footprint over the entire product life-cycle with respect to emissions and consumption of resources. For the shipbuilding industry, it is vital that its impact on the local and global environment is adapted to the challenges of the future. In view of the long service life of vessels in particular, this is a key challenge. The further optimisation of the development, manufacturing and service processes, in view of the possibilities that will become available through Industry 4.0, will be of considerable benefit to the maritime industry in Germany.
How does your company go about investing in a modern environmentally compatible maritime industry? What are the key technologies involved?
In our maritime business, we focus increasingly on environmentally friendly solutions that look to the future and are designed to reduce pollutant emissions, in addition to providing low consumption of energy and raw materials. We are currently looking at and testing a variety of innovative marine propulsion systems, ranging from bespoke hybrid propulsion systems to a gas engine for mobile applications that produces 25% less carbon dioxide than a diesel engine, significantly fewer NOx emissions and no sulphur oxide emissions. We are also working on engines that can operate on fuels generated from renewable sources or on alternative fuels, such as biogas, methanol, ethanol, bio oil or liquid gas (LNG). The recovery and use of engine waste heat in particular offers the potential for an even more efficient use of the energy input.
Compared with today‘s levels, a further 5% reduction is possible. If, in addition to that, we improve the entire propulsion system even further, then 15 to 25% of the energy input can be reduced. To do that, however, we need more investment funds for even more intensive R&D.
The maritime coordinator of the German government, Uwe Beckmeyer, will present a recently prepared maritime strategy. What aims do you, as representative of the maritime industry, associate with the new concept?
A strategy for the maritime industry is an important element for strengthening Germany’s position as an industrial centre, particularly as Germany’s maritime industry competes on the international stage. Maritime companies have a right to fair international competitive conditions. Only then will they be able to provide high-tech, environmentally compatible innovative products, systems capabilities and production processes that will allow them to contribute to the long-term goal of achieving mobility climate protection targets worldwide. The focus of the strategy for the maritime industry in Germany, in my view, should be placed on a special green and high-tech campaign.
The aim must be to develop and further expand innovative and forward-looking capabilities that will enable Germany to adopt the role of an international technology leader in the maritime sector. What is important is to promote more efficient and more innovative technologies that are also more environmental and resource friendly along the entire value added chain, primarily for manufacturing processes, energy management and for propulsion systems and engines. In addition to that, ensur that we have well qualified young professionals in all areas of the business (specialists, engineers and scientists) and maintaining skilled jobs should be the focus of joint efforts on the part of the German government, state governments and industry.
The Federal Republic on the one hand is interested in equipping the maritime infrastructure, vessels and ports with environmentally friendly technologies to keep emissions and energy consumption as low as possible, and on the other hand to maintain its leadership on the global market ´for the supply of innovative maritime products. The development of green and high-tech solutions requires further large-scale investments. For this reason, we are appealing to politicians to create the framework conditions that will enable us to develop the innovations needed.
Would you briefly outline the importance the green and high-tech campaign has for you?
With a joint green and high-tech campaign involving both the state and industry, which can set international standards, it is important to face future challenges in a firm and sustainable manner. By carrying out research development in forward-looking capabilities and products, Germany‘s role as an international technology leader and the systems capability of the manufacturing sector of the German maritime industry can be secured in the long-term. With targeted incentives, the manufacturing sector of the maritime industry can develop into a sustainable driver of innovation and thus secure its global technology and system leadership in the long-term. To this end, a comprehensive approach is required and an increase in national efforts to strengthen such capabilities. Bundling these aspects will ultimately lead to a green and high-tech campaign for the manufacturing sector of the maritime industry.
What could the framework conditions look like in Germany for supporting a green and high-tech campaign in the manufacturing sector of the maritime industry? What specifically would you like to see supported?
The “Maritime Technologies of the Next Generation“ programme launched by the German government, which ran from 2011 to 2015, is no longer adequate to achieve the goals that were set. For this reason, the programme must be evaluated for the next funding period and expanded to meet future requirements. In order to achieve this, a consistent strategic focus is needed for the manufacturing sector of the maritime industry and a significantly higher amount of funding. In order to implement the green and high-tech campaign, however, it is absolutely essential that more research groups, made up of universities, colleges and major research institutions, and including primarily the Fraunhofer Gesellschaft and the DLR, are involved.
A concrete, targeted funding programme is needed that is designed to maintain and expand systems capability and to achieve technology leadership in challenging platforms and propulsion systems. It should include as its main focus the funding of innovative technologies in shipbuilding, in addition to energy-efficient environmentally compatible propulsion systems and engines, such as gas engines and hybrid propulsion systems. Systems capability should be adopted as the key funding criterion. What is important are the prospects of long term funding to ensure that we are in a position to market technological innovations in the manufacturing sector of the national maritime industry.
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