Clean technology: securing shipping’s costly fuel transition
Hirozaku Kaji, technical director at Nippon Paint Marine, explains why clean technologies are vital to ensure the transition to future fuels.
It goes without saying that one of the biggest issues in the maritime industry is decarbonisation.
Profit and commercial priorities are as important as ever, but today, they are underpinned by regulatory and reputational pressure to reduce emissions.
Not to mention the increasing demand from charterers and cargo owners for more transparency and operational and environmental efficiencies, which also has an impact on shipowners’ bottom line.
Decisive action is essential for shipping to meet its decarbonisation targets and build sustainable practices for the future. There is no ‘silver bullet’ that will get the maritime industry to net-zero emissions, despite alternative fuels such as methanol or ammonia being held up as anticipated decarbonisation panaceas.
Shipping companies must look at other solutions which can drive an immediate reduction in fuel consumption and emissions today, as well as deliver operational efficiencies that will enable the successful transition to future fuels in the medium to longer term.
A costly, complex journey
The delivery and uptake of a new generation of viable and proven zero-carbon fuels will of course have a huge impact on the industry’s decarbonisation and ability to meet IMO, EU and other stakeholders’ targets and expectations.
However, the ideal scenario of a shipping industry operating on purely future fuels and new sources of energy will not happen overnight.
The fuel transition process will be long and complex, as it requires a new sophisticated green shipping value chain to be created, including new bunkering infrastructure, associated regulatory standards, and the willingness of stakeholders across the industry to manage the transition – from owners, operators, charterers to financial institutions, fuel suppliers, storage providers and shipbuilders.
Creating these mechanisms will be costly, and there remain significant uncertainties over the availability and price of future fuels. Take methanol as an example. It takes two tonnes of methanol to get the same calorific value as one tonne of heavy fuel oil (HFO).
So, the ‘real’ price to operate a methanol-fuelled vessel is pushed up to $2,000 a tonne; over 300% more than current very low sulphur fuel oil (VLSFO) prices, and over 200% more than marine gasoil (MGO) prices.
Future fuels will undoubtedly play a critical role in meeting shipping’s decarbonisation targets. However, these cost implications may prove commercially difficult and cost-prohibitive for many industry players, requiring other solutions to make a meaningful emissions reduction impact.
Read full article