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Australia and Singapore cooperate for $20M maritime emissions initiative

The two nations will continue partnering in the hopes of decarbonising the world’s busiest transshipment hub

Australia’s national science agency the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) has announced Australia and Singapore have partnered on a $20 million initiative to reduce emissions in the maritime sector.

The Australia-Singapore Initiative on Low Emissions Technologies (ASLET) for maritime and port operations will be delivered by the CSIRO alongside the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA).

With both countries home to the busiest transshipment hub, the ASLET initiative intends to support the outcomes of the Singapore and Australia Green and Digital Shipping Corridor (GDSC), which aims to decarbonise shipping routes between the two countries.

The Australian and Singapore governments signed a memorandum of understanding to formally collaborate on establishing the GDSC following its announcement at the 9th Annual Leaders’ Meeting in March.

The CSIRO says ASLET is expected to unlock new fuel solutions and accelerate the deployment and uptake of zero or near-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emission technologies at scale, and will explore cooperation opportunities between Australia and Singapore in green shipping and port infrastructure initiatives.

The initiative presents a significant opportunity for both countries, given Singapore’s position as the world’s largest bunkering and busiest transshipment hub port and Australia’s potential to be a leading producer and exporter of low-emissions fuels.

“ASLET has the potential to translate research outcomes from the scientific community from both countries, and to use these technologies to help scale up the production and deployment of low-emissions fuels and technologies at scale,” MPA chief executive Teo Eng Dih says.

“Given Australia’s natural advantage for renewable energy production and Singapore’s hub status, MPA looks forward to making this partnership deliver value to the Singapore-Australia GDSC and to the wider international shipping and port communities.”

CSIRO chief executive Dr Doug Hilton says the collaboration addresses the key industry challenges faced when adopting low emission fuels.

“In order to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions from international shipping close to 2050, we need to find reliable, trusted scientific solutions for the industry,” Hilton says.

“We need to focus on transitioning to low-emissions fuels such as ammonia and hydrogen by developing accessible technology and infrastructure at ports that supports a range of vessels.

“Collaborating with MPA and also industry partners from both countries, we aim to accelerate the decarbonisation of the supply chain and help revolutionise the industry.”

The first ASLET Steering Committee meeting, led by representatives from MPA, CSIRO and Singapore’s Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), will be convened on April 19 at the Singapore Maritime Week 2024.

The committee, established as part of a joint collaboration agreement, aims to provide strategic direction and evaluate and approve projects on low emission technology projects for maritime and port operations.

It intends to issue a grant call to develop a pipeline of projects consistent with its focus areas and accelerate joint efforts between both countries in maritime decarbonisation. As part of ASLET, both Singapore and Australia will commit up to $10 million each in their respective currencies to deliver projects under the initiative. It is expected that the program will also attract industry co-funding.

The initiative will facilitate the research, demonstration and commercialisation of zero and near-zero greenhouse gas emission technologies, fuels and energy sources for use in maritime shipping and port operations.

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