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VIRTUAL WORKSHOPS IDENTIFY PATHWAY FOR LNG FUEL

Wednesday, November 11, 2020 

A series of virtual workshops, hosted by the Society for Gas as Marine Fuel (SGMF), aimed to dispel a number of myths about LNG and its place among other alternative fuels promote das a pathway to decarbonisation of shipping.

Gas Fest saw shipowners, energy majors, bunker operators, port authorities, class societies and technology suppliers taking part in interactive sessions on infrastructure, design and technology, alternative fuels, communications and defining sustainability.

“Gas Fest has always delivered honest discussions and real action,” said Mark Bell, GM of SGMF. “Although we could not meet physically this year, the virtual workshops showed that the community built around the event remains energised and committed to clearing a smooth and safe path for the increasing uptake of LNG and, as they become viable, other fuels that can contribute to cleaner shipping.”

Among the points made in the workshops were the following:

 

  • Comparisons of clean fuels can give the impression that fuels such as green hydrogen, methanol and ammonia are close to commercial availability. In fact they are many years away and LNG is an important first step, offering clear emission advantages today as well as potential for future greenhouse gas emission reductions, either by synthetic methane or bio-LNG.
  • Shipowners require long-term certainty and the idea of a ‘bridge’ fuel may encourage them to look to future solutions that are not yet ready. Describing LNG instead as an ‘incremental’ fuel that can be gradually made cleaner over the lifecycle of a vessel may provide reassurance that owners’ technology investments will not be stranded.
  • Perceived uncertainty of returns is holding back investment in infrastructure, with few governments giving clear signals about the long-term future of LNG and few companies prepared to take risks to develop bunkering markets without these cues. T
  • Reducing the cost of LNG bunker vessels was seen as key to encouraging uptake, with designers considering how the next generation of vessels could be made more cost-effective.
  • Designers are being asked for concepts that are ‘future fuel ready’ even though some characteristics of these fuels – their emissions on combustion, for example – remain relatively unknown.
  • Shipowners are reluctant to eliminate fuel candidates prematurely because of the grave risk of making a wrong decision. As shipping may have only a limited influence in which fuels it eventually has access to, with competition for clean fuels coming from bigger industries. Flexibility, preparedness and willingness to deploy new fuels and technologies is more important than predicting which fuels will be available.
  • LNG’s label as a ‘bridging’ fuel is challenging. While clean fuels of the future – i.e. the ‘end of the bridge’ - are not clear, LNG offers immediate emission advantages today and the potential to incrementally improve environmental impact.

 

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