Alcohol, biomethane, and ammonia leading future bunker fuel candidates. Image Credit: Maersk
To achieve its emissions reduction pledges, the industry needs commercially viable carbon neutral vessels in service by 2030, a new joint study by Lloyd’s Register and Maersk has concluded.
While this will present an obvious challenge for shipowners, the greater burden will be on land for the fuel supply chain.
Alcohol, biomethane, and ammonia are the leading candidates to be the industry's choice as the carbon neutral fuel of the future, the study finds.
It also concludes there is no clear winner among the three from a cost perspective, which at the moment puts them all looking equally expensive.
In contrast, the additional CAPEX needed to build or modify vessels to use those fuels will be relatively small.
"The additional price to build a ship with new fuel tanks, modified engines and fuel supply systems is a very small element of the total cost of operation, as the additional CAPEX cost is divided over the lifetime of the ship but given the potential impact of future fuel prices on operating costs, shipowners must invest in flexibility – for example, designing a ship which can run on one fuel today and later be retrofitted to run on an alternate fuel," said Katharine Palmer, LR global head of sustainability.
However big of a task this will be for shipowners, LR says it will be dwarfed by the challenges of getting the right fuel ready and the necessary supporting infrastructure on land.
“The main challenge is not at sea but on land,” said Søren Toft, Maersk Chief Operating Officer.
"Technology changes inside the vessels are minor when compared to the massive innovative solutions and fuel transformation that must be found to produce and distribute sustainable energy sources on a global scale. We need to have a commercially viable carbon neutral vessel in service 11 years from now."