EC says LNG and methanol could be used as transition bunkers before completing a shift to biofuels.
The European Commission (EC) says that a new study from the Joint Research Centre (JRC) shows that fuels such as liquefied natural gas (LNG) and methanol are "the most promising" alternatives to conventional bunkers for reducing shipping sector emissions.
"Results show that from a long-term perspective, moving to LNG and methanol is strategically attractive as each of the two fuels has a biofuel counterpart, biomethane and biomethanol," the EC said.
EC says that vessels and infrastructure built for LNG and methanol can also supply bio methane and bio methanol "without a large overhaul," making it possible to use the two fuels as transition bunkers before completing a shift to biofuels.
However, their potential use will depend on a number of factors, including environmentally sustainable biomass feedstock for their production, cost-effective production technologies and ultimately on their market penetration.
Results show that from a long-term perspective, moving to LNG and methanol is strategically attractive
"The EU aims to shift some of the road transport load to the more efficient marine and inland waterways systems," said EC, noting that a specific renewable fuel mandate for shipping could complement the current road transport mandate.
Further, EC notes that the results of December's COP21 summit in Paris makes this an advantageous time to invest in the shipping industry's decarbonisation.
The news comes on the heels of EC's announcement last week that it has extended the deadline for applications to select members of the European Sustainable Shipping Forum (ESSF) from May 2 to May 10, 2016.
"Bearing in mind the broader aspects of sustainable shipping to be covered by the ESSF, and the significant interest from organisations who have not applied to the first call for members (25/09/2013), the Commission has decided to organise a new call for applications and to increase the total number of participants in the Forum from 60 to 68 members," states EC.
In February, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) announced that it will be working with EC to reduce emissions from the shipping industry.