LNG as a fuel could be reaching a tipping point as deepsea operators increasingly opt to use it as a propulsion method, says DNV GL Maritime business development manager Christos Chryssakis
At the launch of DNV GL’s Energy Transition Outlook 2019 as part of London International Shipping Week, Mr Chryssakis spoke about the uptake of alternative fuels and technologies. He noted that less than 1% of the existing fleet uses alternative fuels and approximately 6% of the global orderbook comprises vessels with alternative fuel propulsion. Cost, availability and a lack of strong drivers are typical barriers to the uptake of such fuels and technologies, he added.
Many of the vessels currently equipped with alternative propulsion operate on shortsea routes, and shortsea shipping tends to act as an technology incubator for the deepsea segment, noted Mr Chryssakis. For example, passenger and car ferries make up the largest segment of the operational LNG-fuelled fleet by a significant margin, with 44 vessels in service compared to 22 for the next largest segment, offshore supply vessels. However, there are more vessels on order in the cruise, container and tanker (both crude and chemical) segments, and the accumulated installed capacity is already set to grow significantly to over 300,000 m3 in 2020 from nearly 150,000 m3 in 2019, significantly higher than the roughly 60,000 m3 capacity seen in 2018.
Adoption is aided by rapidly increasing bunkering infrastructure and bunker vessel capacity, which is due to increase from 50,000 m3 in 2018 to just under 250,000 m3 in 2021.
Looking at other fuels and propulsion methods, Mr Chryssakis observed that battery hybrids are also on the rise, installations are largely in the car and passenger ferry segment which has 100 operational vessels and 75 under construction with battery installations. However there is growth in the deepsea segment too, with seven crude oil tankers, 16 cruise ships, and 11 roro cargo ships with battery installations currently under construction.
Development continues on other options such as methanol, hydrogen and ammonia, and DNV GL is working with industry partners to remove barriers such as cost affecting hydrogen and ammonia, said Mr Chryssakis.