The use of biofuel is escalating within the ferry industry and will become much more mainstream, as it is a tangible option for operators to use to meet the 2020 low sulphur directive.
DFDS is investing in a start-up company that produces biofuel, MASH Energy ApS, to develop a commercially viable alternative to fossil fuels.
This is a crucial move in helping to make biofuel use widespread across the industry. This biofuel is produced from agricultural waste so not only meets the 2020 low sulphur directive but also the tough maritime environmental legislation coming up after 2020 – where CO2 emissions must be cut by at least 50% in 2050 compared to 2008.
While the benefits are there, the issue is making biofuel readily available to the ferry sector, and by producing greater quantities of it, making it more cost competitive. This is exactly the issue that DFDS’ investment will fortunately tackle. It aims to produce sufficient volumes to make biofuel commercially viable.
One aim is to identify other waste products that can be used to produce the biofuel –as it is currently made from by-products from nut processing in Tanzania and India. If other waste products could be used, the quantity will increase and the price will decrease.
The biofuel will be tested on a DFDS ferry to verify and ensure the biofuel is suited to a ferry and its specific requirements.
The fact DFDS is investing US$1.5M in the start-up and will have a 24% ownership share of the company after the final stage, means it has a real drive and incentive to make this fuel commercially viable.
This is not the only biofuel ferry project. Red Funnel announced in September last year that from October it would operate the main engines and generators of Red Falcon as a ‘testbed’ for Green-D biofuel, which consists of hydrotreated vegetable oil. This will play its role in making biofuel available to other ferry operators, flagging up any impact, like DFDS, on maintenance regimes, reliability and fuel consumption.
One advantage of using Green-D biofuel which could boost its uptake, is it can be used as a direct replacement to diesel, meaning changes to engines or infrastructure are not required. It can also be mixed with marine gasoil or used on its own. This flexibility will make it attractive to operators.
DFDS and Red Funnel are highlighting the benefits of using biofuel to other ferry operators and their work in this aspect is going to significantly help to make biofuel a real alternative to fossil fuels.