The combination of
market mechanisms and regulatory instruments will be the defining feature of
shipping’s journey to decarbonization. Though regulation remains critical to
implementation, the drive from the industry will accelerate the process.
In both cases
though, perceptions about zero carbon fuels need to be aligned with reality.
Some options will never scale or be reliable enough for large scale deployment;
energy efficiency is important but can only provide marginal gains to
conventional vessel designs.
‘The First Wave, a blueprint for commercial scale zero emission
This is a process
of evolution: of regulation, technology and public acceptance and it requires
accurate information to be shared so that industry can make informed decisions
based on comparative information. The Global Maritime Forum has done just that
with its recent report ‘The First Wave , a blueprint for commercial scale zero
emission shipping pilots’.
Methanol answers all the primary demands for a low carbon interim fuel
conclusion of this initial publication is that Methanol, produced from a
combination of hydrogen and CO or CO2 could be more easily available than green
or blue (renewable) ammonia in the short term, as dual methanol-HFO engines are
already commercially available. With the IMO framework for its use as a marine
fuel recently approved, Methanol answers all the primary demands for a low
carbon interim fuel and a long term zero carbon one.
Methanol is no more toxic than diesel
of fuel safety risk is that the physical properties of methanol, ammonia and
hydrogen make them either more flammable or more toxic than conventional HFO. This
is not the case for Methanol. While all fuels are toxic, Methanol is no more
toxic than diesel and is miscible in water, making it far safer for the
physical environment. Fuel-specific safety and handling procedures can mitigate
against these risks and in the case of Methanol, are already in place.
Safety and fuel
handling regulations – established either by IMO or by domestic regulators –
must be passed for any new marine fuel, a requirement that has already been met
for Methanol. Clear industry guidelines as well as more extensive experience of
use as marine fuels for commercial-scale operations should address remaining
concerns, the GMF says.
The GMF study
concludes that for the purpose of testing the reliability of new marine fuels
throughout the shipping value chain, there might be a case for a transitional
use of ammonia and Methanol produced from blue hydrogen (gas reforming combined
with carbon capture) or even from grey hydrogen (high-carbon conventional
hydrogen), which would currently be respectively 25% and 40% cheaper than green
hydrogen from renewable power electrolysis.
To meet IMO NOx Tier III requirements, Methanol can be blended with
To meet IMO NOx
Tier III requirements, Methanol can be blended with water which brings the ship
into compliance without the need for expensive exhaust gas after treatment.
In the meantime,
the report says, the industry should ‘seize every opportunity’ to repurpose and
retrofit existing infrastructure and assets, especially for ammonia and
Methanol production, fuel storage and bunker vessels, to minimise upfront
Getting zero-emission vessels on deep-sea routes by 2030 is feasible
We share the GMF’s
conclusion that the ambition of getting zero-emission vessels on deep-sea
routes by 2030 is feasible and also that achieving this goal will require
enhanced collaboration across the maritime value chain; as well as targeted
support from key governments.
The industry experience to start the journey
The scale of the
challenge will only grow larger as time moves on, but the industry has the
strategy, approvals, and experience to start the journey.