Future Fuels Webinar Highlights

Future fuels will become the hot maritime topic in 2021 as the clock ticks on reducing carbon intensity by 40 per cent.


With almost the entire global fleet still running on fossil fuels tough calls need to be made.


In LQM's final webinar of the year, Analysing Future Fuels: The Road to Decarbonisation, industry experts offered their perspective.


In addition - during the hour-long session - guests were asked to undertake a survey, which provided some fascinating insight.


Just 20 per cent of guests indicated there are currently enough financial incentives to decarbonise.


A hefty 71 per cent of respondents strongly agreed that shipping must accelerate decarbonisation as part of international efforts across all industries to reduce green house gas emissions, though.


"99.2 per cent of vessels on the water are fossil-fuel based and there is currently no silver bullet or financial incentive. But what's fascinating is the desire for change is clearly there," said LQM chief executive Daniel Rose.


"Does shipping realistically have a chance to reach the 2030 milestone? The answer is probably yes, but the path is not straightforward.


“IMO 2030 compliance can probably be achieved by using a combination of operational efficiency improvements, greener fuels - especially LNG and Biofuels. Policy will play a major role as well, but unfortunately this is likely to be based around punitive measures, instead of genuine financial incentives for the actors in the shipping sector looking to decarbonise.


"Post-2030, Ammonia and Hydrogen are probably viable solutions, albeit with different pros and cons. Regardless, the results of our recent survey make it quite clear that the economics need to shift for widespread future fuel adoption."


Devon Smith from scrubber manufacturer Pacific Green Technologies told guests that scrubbers, which can help reduce harmful emissions, still have a role to play after a lull in demand over the last few months.


"What’s happening now is shipowners are starting to become interested again but they’re doing so a little more quietly this time and they’re trying to get all of their ducks in a row and their solutions lined up around their dry docking schedule," said Smith.


"I think, while it seems the scrubber industry has stepped back – and that is partially true – I would say that an element of it has just become a little more quiet and people have been less boisterous in their strategy."


LNG has long been touted as a potential transition fuel. However, 'methane slip' has been an on-going concern.


This refers to when gas leaks unburned through a vessel's engine. Methane has a 20-year global warming potential, which is 86x higher than CO2.


Steve Esau, general manager of industry coalition SEA-LNG, explained that the topic is not clear-cut.


"It’s important to understand methane slip," he said. "It depends on the engine technology.


"[We] have to remember that those low-pressure engines were developed to deal – 15-20 years ago – with local emissions issues, such as Sox and NOx.


"At that time, methane slip was not a recognised issue. Since it has been recognised, you have seen, I think over the past 15 years, engine manufacturers reduce the level of methane slip four-fold.


"If you look in the press and talk to some of our members, there are developments in place which are going to reduce the methane slip in these low-pressure engines even further."


Ammonia as a future fuel has been discussed by maritime commentators for a while.


Esau, however, didn't expect a rapid adoption of the technology any time soon.


"Essentially, [ammonia] is not a technology that is anywhere ready for use in the marine space," he added.


"Technology developments have to happen, the accompanying regulation and approval from class societies need to happen, and then fundamentally you have also got to think about where the ammonia is going to come from. There needs to be a massive onshore investment in the production of “green” ammonia."


Watch the recording of the Future Fuels webinar