The shipping industry faces an uncertain future. File Image / Pixabay
The ability to take on multiple different alternative fuel options will be essential for fleets to remain in compliance with the range of emissions rules expected to come into force in the coming decades, according to classification society DNV.
The firm sees about 12% of newbuilds ordered today having alternative fuel systems -- mostly LNG -- up from 6% last year, it said in a new report on Wednesday
"Fuel flexibility is key to staying both compliant and competitive in a diverse and uncertain fuel future," Knut Ørbeck-Nilssen, CEO for Maritime at DNV, said in the report.
"That we are heading for carbon zero is clear, but the route there is far from it.
"There exists no 'silver bullet' solution."
The report, the latest of DNV's sets of maritime forecast out to 2050, sees demonstration models of hydrogen and ammonia-fuelled propulsion emerging by 2025, and fuel cells being behind that schedule. The firm expects the shipping industry to need as much as 8,000 GW of solar power capacity to provide it with synthetic fuels by 2050, and up to 750 million mt/year of captured carbon to produce 'blue' fuels.
The engine manufacturer analyses 12 decarbonisation scenarios, and considers seven possible fuel pathways for the case study of a bulk carrier as a way if interpreting how owners considering new tonnage orders today can assess the choices facing them.
"While all ships need to fulfil the minimum compliance requirements from the IMO, commercial pressure may push shipowners to aim for a leading position in decarbonization, as we expect that poorly performing shipping companies will be less attractive on the charter market, and may also struggle to gain access to capital," the company said in the report.
"Considering the large uncertainties involved over the lifetime of ships, planning for fuel flexibility and Fuel Ready solutions could ease the transition and minimize the risk of investing in stranded assets."