The search for the best fuel options
The tightening of emission restrictions is spurring the shipping industry to explore new ways of powering ships. Is shipping at a turning point? Will today’s fuel be a good choice tomorrow? 2020 and the global 0.5 per cent “sulphur cap” are approaching fast. The Tier III NOX limits are already in force in some areas and coming soon in others. And the IMO strategy to cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 50 per cent by 2050 sets an ambitious goal for the longer term. All of this has the world’s 70,000+ merchant ships looking for solutions. Is it HFO and a scrubber? A low sulphur blend (LSFO)? Marine gas oil (MGO)? Or one of the lower or zero-carbon alternatives? We look at the data from DNV GL’s Alternative Fuels Insight (AFI) platform to see what it says about how the maritime industry is responding.Start Slideshow
Scrubbers and HFO are by far the most popular current alternatives to LSFO/MGO. LNG is making inroads as a more sustainable fuel, while batteries are mostly used in short-sea shipping. Methanol, LPG and hydrogen are still in their infancy as pioneer alternative fuels. Hydrogen from renewable sources is a potential zero-GHG option.
Rechargeable batteries are a great zero-emission energy source for short-range ferries and other short-sea applications. They can also help reduce fuel consumption and emissions by acting as a “spinning reserve” replacing an auxiliary engine, and/or as a “peak shaving” energy source to optimize engine loads.
Zero sulphur and particle emissions, relatively low NOX, reduced GHG emissions, and falling fuel prices make LNG an attractive option for newbuilds. The number of adopters has increased steadily.
Although their number is rising fast, still relatively few ships of the 70,000-strong global fleet have installed scrubbers to enable continued operation on HFO after 2020.