Advanced biofuels represent the most economically feasible zero-emissions solution for the shipping industry, according to a new report produced by Lloyd’s Register and University Maritime Advisory Services on behalf of the Sustainable Shipping Initiative (SSI).
The advantage of advanced biofuels — which are not derived from food crops — is that they can be used in internal combustion engines. This means that vessels won’t incur new equipment costs in addition to the price of the fuel itself.
Under the projections offered in the study, the cost of switching to biofuels would be “in the realm of acceptability” for many industry players.
This report was geared towards the needs and requirements of SSI members, who are primarily involved in deep-sea trading with container ships, bulk carriers and tankers. It found that batteries, which are gaining popularity on short and predictable routes, would not be acceptable solutions for large oceangoing vessels.
“Much development is needed, in terms of performance, energy density, and cost, for [batteries] to be worthy of consideration for use in the context of the ships being analyzed,” the study explains.
Hydrogen fuel cells were highlighted as potential solutions, provided issues with upstream CO2 emissions are resolved. The report states that the technology may already be economically feasible if the excess costs are distributed across the supply chain.
“The report makes clear that [zero emission] technology is with us today, but investment is needed both to bring the technology to scale and to encourage a wider take-up,” says Stephanie Draper, co-chair of the SSI. “The shipping industry will need multiple solutions, and investment for different technologies — not just biofuels — to reach beyond fuel efficiency to decarbonization.”