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Tuesday, April 20, 2021 

According to industry coalition Sea-LNG, waiting for future fuels and not fully utilising LNG, which is safe, proven, competitive and available today, with a confirmed reduction in GHG of up to 23% (Well-to-Wake) and the obvious air quality benefits of LNG as a maritime fuel, is a mistake.

To continue to wait for unproven alternatives - as advocated in the World Bank’s recent report, The Role of LNG in the Transition Toward Low- and Zero-Carbon Shipping - only makes the current GHG and local emissions problems worse, says Sea-LNG. The World Bank report attempts to prescribe solutions and predict the timing of future technology development. SEA-LNG believes strongly that the transition to future fuels must not follow this prescriptive approach. It is far too early to decide what the real potential of various alternatives fuels will be for a highly complex, hard-to-abate, global industry.

Bio- and synthetic LNG offer an incremental pathway for the decarbonisation of the global shipping industry — one that is already being implemented by a growing number of shipowners. According to Sea-LNG Chhairman Peter Keller: "The existing LNG infrastructure is being used today, and is interchangeable with its bio- and synthetic alternatives, thereby providing a low risk, long-term decarbonisation alternative. By focusing on theoretical, unproven solutions, the World Bank stifles innovation in technologies that can also provide answers in the decades ahead. We strongly encourage all institutions around the globe that have a place in the policy debate to set standards and targets that drive real and immediate reductions in GHG emissions, and not prescribe specific technology solutions that are untried and unproven in the real world. To suggest that investments not be made in the LNG sector is unwise, and will prolong the use of higher emissions fuels and slow down shipping’s decarbonisation."

While methane slip is an issue that needs to be addressed, its effect must be quantified using up to date and accurate information. Using current engine information, as the latest Sea-LNG study does, shows that methane slip does not impact LNG’s GHG reduction potential to the extent that the World Bank report claims.

Keller added: “Often based on outdated data, methane slip has become an overused argument for those wishing to justify inaction.”

Sea-LNG points out that the World Bank report fails to acknowledge the very rapid acceleration in the availability of Bio-LNG. While highlighting green ammonia and hydrogen as the only viable future fuels, the World Bank report fails to mention the major challenges associated with these fuels.

"Major technological and regulatory hurdles must be overcome before ammonia and hydrogen can safely be used as fuels in the marine environment, and investment cases will be hindered by the low energy density of these fuels. The massive investments that will be required in new infrastructure will have to be co-ordinated with ship-owners and other stakeholders. The World Bank’s untested theoretical approach risks delaying the shipping industry’s decarbonisation and at worst it can lead the industry down a technology cul-de-sac," said Keller.

Sea-LNG encourages informed debate of future fuels. It is important however, to base this debate on objective, up-to-date Life Cycle Analysis and recognise that we need to start with proven technologies not future concepts that are currently no more than wishful thinking.

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