Container operator Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) has indicated it sees the future of maritime fuel in hydrogen. The company is exploring the viability of hydrogen and fuels derived from it and pioneering the use of biofuels within its existing fleet
Speaking at a conference in Geneva, Switzerland, on 5 October, MSC Group executive vice-president for maritime policy and government affairs Bud Darr outlined some preferred options in a keynote speech on decarbonisation and during a panel discussion on fuels for the future.
“There is no one single solution to decarbonise shipping; we need a range of alternative fuels at scale and we need them urgently,” said Mr Darr, “The future of shipping and decarbonisation will rely on strong partnerships from both the perspective of technology collaboration and procurement.”
MSC said it is actively exploring and trialling a range of alternative fuels and technologies and is already actively bunkering biofuels at scale.
Mr Darr said LNG remains a transitional option, while carbon capture and storage, if perfected for marine use, could be useful.
Industry partnerships could help accelerate the development of clean hydrogen for the benefit of the entire container shipping industry. Despite some significant challenges to overcome mainly related to density, volume and safe handling, MSC is in favour of further R&D efforts to produce it in a greenhouse gas-neutral way and to develop it at scale, along with other fuels that may derive from it.
MSC is also pioneering the large-scale use of biofuel blends for container ships and is already bunkering up to 30% biofuel blends on a routine basis in Rotterdam.
In addition, the world’s largest class of container ships, MSC’s Gülsün class, was fitted at delivery in 2019-20 with the option of a future conversion to LNG as a potential bridging fuel as the industry seeks to decarbonise operations.
However in the long term, the industry expects an enormous injection of capital into R&D efforts to support these goals.
Other companies, notably Danish ferry operator DFDS, have also identified hydrogen among other fuels as having the most potential to work as a long-term maritime fuel option.
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