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ULC-Energy completes study on the use of Nuclear Power to help decarbonize International Bulk Shipping


22 feb. 2024

ULC-Energy has undertaken a study that investigated the potential to use civil nuclear technologies to power commercial maritime vessels.

The study compared key characteristics of various civil reactor designs against the requirements for the potential use in commercial maritime shipping and evaluated a range of regulatory, operational, and commercial challenges such as port access, licensing and vessel classification, capital costs, and crew training & certification. The study was commissioned by global mining company and major shipping charterer, BHP.

Decarbonizing the shipping industry is a formidable challenge in the pursuit of more sustainable transportation. Some of the methods employed to date have focused on energy efficiency by using larger ships, improved hull designs, and streamlined operations.  In addition, parts of the maritime industry have explored the adoption of alternative fuels such as LNG, methanol, and ammonia. 

Nuclear energy emerges as a promising alternative to be considered in the mix, offering the potential for longer range, faster transits, and the reduction of refueling requirements, all while maintaining near-zero greenhouse gas emissions for the voyage.  At the same time, such a civil nuclear vision would require material changes, including overcoming technical challenges, updating regulatory frameworks to ensure compliance with international regulations, and restructuring operations.

“Cost effective and reliable international shipping services are a crucial component of global economic activity. Civil nuclear solutions have the potential to be a reliable and cost-effective alternative to other marine fuel options. However, it’s not straightforward nor easy – and it will require a range of stakeholders to cooperate to make civil nuclear marine solutions possible.” said Dirk Rabelink, CEO of ULC-Energy. 

“BHP values the importance of partnerships in identifying a range of pathways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the maritime sector. We welcomed the opportunity to support this study by ULC-Energy to explore yet another potential alternative,” said Rashpal Bhatti, Vice President of Maritime and Supply Chain Excellence at BHP.

About ULC

ULC-Energy is a nuclear energy development and consultancy company, established in 2021 in The Netherlands and based in Amsterdam. ULC-Energy believes that nuclear energy can deliver unrivalled benefits when it comes to reliability, economics, and environmental footprint of energy production.

About BHP 

BHP is a leading global resources company with approximately 80,000 employees and contractors, primarily in Australia and the Americas. BHP’s products are sold worldwide, and it is among the world’s top producers of major commodities, including iron ore, copper, nickel, and metallurgical coal. Read more about BHP’s approach to climate change:

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