Green Shipping

Building on a rich maritime history, the UK is pioneering environmentally friendly shipping and the adoption of green technologies across the industry.


The UK is one of the world’s leading maritime nations, with the sector contributing up to £13.8 billion and 260,000 jobs to the UK economy annually. Globally, the sector is on the cusp of huge and disruptive change.

Just as Britain led the industrial revolution, the UK maritime sector will capitalise on the opportunities created by this transformation which is rooted in clean growth, digitisation and automation. This will enable the export growth of a new Global Britain.

Opportunity highlights

Upcoming technologies and regulatory changes are changing the shape of the industry.

Decarbonisation of shipping and regulation

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from international shipping by at least 50% by 2050 (compared to a 2008 baseline).

The UK presents opportunities for investment in:

· the development of alternative fuel powered vessels · the integration of ports into the decarbonised energy network · supplying the fuels of the future

Digitalisation of ports and shipping

The UK’s shipping technology sector is estimated to reach £13 billion per year by 2030, facilitated by the digitalisation of ports and shipping.

Marine autonomy

Marine autonomy is set to disrupt the sector, with new technologies enabling more efficient operation of shipping.

Maritime regulation and insurance

The UK has a globally leading maritime professional business service sector which insures, regulates and manages the world’s maritime sector.

Shipbuilding, refit and repair opportunities

Increasing demand for complex ships and the UK’s commitment to a revived shipbuilding sector, provides opportunities in the building, refitting and repairing of vessels.

World-class marine science industry

The UK is a key player in global marine science, boasting globally recognised institutions such as the UK Hydrographic Office.

Commercial maturity

The UK has centuries of expertise in the maritime industry and has set international standards for the global maritime industry.

The UK’s thought leadership stands at the forefront of the industry, both in business and academia. As a centre for innovation and expertise, the UK fosters a business landscape that is intellectually dynamic, providing access to not only the best quality employees, but the latest ideas in the field.

Key UK assets

There are UK clusters with the potential to lead in the supply of clean maritime technologies, creating opportunities for investment.

Other key assets include:

Baltic Exchange

The Baltic Exchange is the world’s leading source of independent maritime market data. It provides a range of services, from in-depth academic-taught courses to free debt dispute resolution for members.

Lloyd’s Insurance Markets

Lloyd’s is the world’s leading insurance and reinsurance marketplace, covering over 200 territories. They provide a range of insurance coverage for the shipping industry, such as ship crew accident cover and carriers’ liability insurance.

Lloyd’s Register

Lloyd’s Register is a global professional services organisation that specialises in engineering and technology solutions for the maritime industry and broader ocean economy. They collaborate with world and industry leaders in the transition towards a more sustainable world.

Shipbuilding heritage

The UK has internationally renowned shipbuilding heritage and UK-based industry titans, such as Cammel Laird and Harland and Wolff, are currently leading the way in environmentally friendly maritime technology.

Ports infrastructure

The UK has the second largest ports industry in Europe, providing a strong foundation for future growth and significant opportunities for investors.

Alongside this, England’s freeport model provides a comprehensive package of measures, comprising tax reliefs, customs, business rates retention, planning, regeneration, innovation and trade and investment support.

R&D capability

The UK has a number of prestigious universities and a history of expertise and innovation in the maritime sector. Examples of leading maritime R&D organisations in the UK include the National Oceanography Centre and Southampton Marine and Maritime Institute.

The UK is willing to adapt to and support clean maritime technology development, funding the Clean Maritime Demonstration Programme to £23 million, after Innovate UK independently assessed and identified 55 projects for funding. A multi-year follow version of this is being developed and will be launched shortly.

Responding to the British Port Association’s request for government support of shore power, MPs have signalled support for a co-financed model of shore power as a means of reducing shipping emissions.

R&D tax credits work alongside these efforts, providing further incentives to innovate, and reflect the UK’s support of environmentally friendly innovation within the industry and the nation’s wider commitment to net-zero emissions.

Business and government support

The government’s update to its 2017 National Shipbuilding Strategy will set out how it intends to create the conditions for success for all parts of the enterprise, from shipyards building warships to those building offshore wind vessels.

An element of this is the Future Maritime Support Programme. This is worth £5.2 billion and will sustain over 9,400 British jobs, highlighting the wider ambitions of the overall strategy.

The UK’s Maritime 2050 strategy focuses on anticipating the challenges and opportunities the sector faces and recognising the UK’s strengths, so the nation is well positioned to capitalise on them. The UK’s Transport Decarbonisation Plan commits the UK to accelerating maritime decarbonisation in the pursuit of a cleaner, more sustainable industry.

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Case studies


AutoNaut showcases British innovation in environmentally friendly, autonomous maritime technology.

They design, build and operate uncrewed surface vessels (USV), using patented wavefoil technology for propulsion and solar photo-voltaic panels to power onboard systems and sensors. This enables data collection at sea over many weeks, without risk to offshore personnel and without use of carbon fuels.


MSubs specialise in the design, manufacture and operation of manned and unmanned submersibles for military and commercial markets.

MSubs is a global leader in the rapid design and delivery of specialist prototype marine vehicles. Its vehicles are in service with both the US Navy and the US Special Operations Command.

Coda Octopus Products Limited

Coda Octopus design and manufacture underwater technologies to benefit the commercial and defence subsea sectors, producing the world’s first 5-D and 6-D Real-Time Imaging Sonar.

From live operations to autonomous vehicle data collection missions, this technology and capability presents a paradigm shift for marine and ocean monitoring and mapping. It is a testament to British ingenuity and innovation.