Jonathan Lewis of the Clean Air Task Force, an NGO working on these issues globally, and Greg Dolan of the Methanol Institute spoke today to members in our quarterly web conference about “Future Fuels for Shipping.” I will be planning another web conference on the same topic but with different speakers and perspectives for December 2019. Stay tuned!
Without additional policy measures, carbon emissions from global shipping are projected to reach approximately 1,090 million tons by 2035, according to the International Transport Forum. This would represent a 23% growth of emissions by 2035 compared to 2015. Historical emissions from international maritime transport increased by 80% or 3.0% per year from 1990 to 2010. Left unchecked, shipping-related emissions are on track to soar by as much as 250% by 2050 as global trade expands, with the greatest increases coming from shipping routes around Africa and Asia.
The IMO has agreed last year an initial strategy calling for a 50% total annual GHG emissions reduction by 2050 compared to 2008 while pursuing efforts toward phasing out these emissions entirely. The initial strategy lists short-, mid- and long-term measures that could be taken in the 2018-2030+ time period, but at this time are not legally binding. Future fuels that are already being discussed include methanol, ammonia, hydrogen, biofuels and LNG.
Jonathan Lewis: We Need Zero Carbon Fuels in Shipping; Hydrogen and Ammonia Are the Best Bets
Other potential fuels for shipping such as LNG, biofuels and electricity fall short for shipping. Providing electricity for all future loads with today’s relatively inflexible zero-carbon technology will be infeasible and/or very costly. Not everything can be electrified. Carbon-free fuels such as hydrogen (H2) and ammonia (NH3) can help decarbonize while working with the grain of modern energy system. These fuels have a broad range of applications in transport, power generation and industrial process heat.
Greg Dolan: Methanol and Renewable Methanol Are Future-Proof Fuels for the Shipping Sector
Methanol is an ideal fuel for shipping and is already available. Of 151 ports, methanol is already available at 97 of them. Adding infrastructure is low and additional methanol production can be brought online to serve the bunker (and other markets) relatively quickly, within a couple of years. Methanol is also environmentally friendly, biodegradable and less hazardous than other fuels, such as gasoline and diesel. If the Exxon Valdez had been carrying methanol instead of oil, there wouldn’t have been an environmental disaster. The methanol would have naturally biodegraded within a day. Renewable methanol represents great potential to reduce GHGs by 95%, and there are a number of projects coming online around the world.
The presentations and webinar recording are available at this link. If you have any trouble accessing, please let me know. I will be using Google Drive to securely store large files so that the website functions properly and quickly!