New report: Is LNG as a marine fuel a dead end?

A new report has cast doubt on the role of LNG as a long term marine fuel.

The report was commissioned by the green lobby group Transport and Environment and undertaken by UMAS, a consultancy formed out of the University College London Energy Institute. This is the institute behind the IMO’s third greenhouse gas for shipping  2014 study and other works supporting the decarbonisation of shipping.

T&E has long campaigned for the use of CO2 neutral energy sources in shipping, and wanted a report to highlight how little LNG would do in contributing to the recently announced greenhouse gas strategy from the IMO.

At the recent IMO meeting of its marine environment protection committee this year, member states agreed to work on a roadmap to  reduce shipping’s CO2 emissions by at least 50% based on levels recorded in 2008. This has been regarded as the Paris Agreement for shipping (as shipping and aviation have been left out of the Paris Agreement) and also seen as likely to require strong action from across the industry.

For its part UMAS says the report, which particularly targets the infrastructure investment made by the European Union, was objective and independent and not done to give T&E the answers it wanted. However the findings do suggest a rethink of LNG investment is needed.

Like many such reports this one takes a set of potential scenarios and looks at the possible outcomes and investment needs. The conclusions of the report suggest that more investment needs to be made in building up biofuels, hydrogen, battery power and fuel cells than in LNG f shipping is to meet its 2050 target.

The UMAS report says over $500m has already been invested in LNG infrastructure in Europe, both from the public purse and privately. To allow for the different decarbonisation scenarios the authors say between $3bn and $22.5bn needs to be funneled into infrastructure in the coming 32 years to 2050, and a move to fossil fuel free sources may still be inevitable making any assets then redundant (stranded asset).

Transport & Environment’s take on the report (with link to report) can be read here

UMAS press statement (and link to the report) can be read here

Despit the report nd the suggestions of heavy investment needed, it may be a hard task to stop shipping going down the LNG fuel route even further. There are at least two organisaitons that are gaining strength in the industry that suggest LNG, depsite it being a hydrocarbon, may be here for mre than 30 years.

One organisation is the Society for Gas as a Marine Fuel. It’s membership list includes significant shipowners, ship managers, ship builders, class societies, engineering firms and of course, energy suppliers.

The other SEA\LNG has a similar range of members.

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