Green forms of liquefied natural gas could be a viable fuel for ships to help the industry meet greenhouse-gas emission reduction targets.
UK-based foundation SEA-LNG, in cooperation with independent research and consultancy organisation CE Delft, reported that Liquefied Bio Methane (LBM) and Liquefied Synthetic Methane (LSM) could become available in sufficient quantities to make a contribution towards future decarbonisation for the shipping industry. The costs need not be significantly higher than those of other low- and zero-carbon fuels.
“Based on an extensive review of the global availability of biomass, and the maturity of technologies to produce biomethane and synthetic methane, we conclude that, in principle, sufficient amounts could be produced to fuel the shipping sector,” commented CE Delft senior researcher Dagmar Nelissen. “However, other sectors are also likely to demand methane, and there need to be significant investments in production capacity”.
Analysis of the global sustainable biomass resource shows that biomethane from energy crops, agricultural residues, forestry products and residues could significantly exceed the global total energy demand of the maritime sector.
“The shipping industry faces unprecedented challenges if it is to meet the International Maritime Organisation’s (IMO) decarbonisation targets,” commented Peter Keller, Chairman of SEA-LNG. “Confusing and countering claims abound for different zero-emissions technologies, all of which require decades of research and development before they are proven safe for marine operations, globally available, and commercially viable.”
The report shows that through LBM and LSM, LNG offers a clear pathway to net-zero carbon emissions from shipping while also future-proofing ship owners’ investments. Moreover, the sustainable potential for LBM could be substantially higher in 2050 compared to 2030, even when excluding aquatic biomass, which has the potential to play a dominant role in the long term.
“If we are to make effective, meaningful progress with emissions reductions, waiting for the perfect solution is not an option,” concluded Mr Keller. “We must act today, and LNG is the only option that both provides considerable GHG emissions reductions now while charting a clear pathway towards a sustainable future for the shipping industry.”
When it comes to Central and Eastern Europe, LNG terminals are built, or under construction, in Poland, Lithuania and Croatia.