Speaking at the Singapore Maritime Technology Conference, Shell global head of shipping and maritime Grahaeme Henderson laid down the company’s rationale on how shipping can achieve net-zero carbon and what future fuels to use
For international shipping, the conclusion we have come to is that hydrogen is likely to be the dominant fuel with LNG playing a vital role in the interim. This will ensure we reduce cumulative emissions now, while hydrogen is developed commercially and at scale. This is because any new fuel is going to take time to test, commercialise and scale – even as the sector pushes to do that as quickly as possible.
To help demonstrate how that could work, we will also be trialling the use of hydrogen fuel cells for ships. Working with our partners SembCorp Marine and Penguin in Singapore, we will be retrofitting one of our charter vessels with a fuel cell and providing the hydrogen fuel.
Our modelling shows that the fastest pathway to net-zero, with the lowest total emissions, is the accelerated adoption of LNG, combined with widespread use of energy-efficient technologies, while developing fuel cells ready to transition directly to zero-emissions fuels in the future.
I want to look at the important role LNG can play in driving decarbonisation and aiding the transition to future fuels. There has been much discussion on this topic in the last week with two new reports, from the World Bank and Sphera highlighting some of the opportunities and challenges of an LNG pathway.
So first, let me be clear, LNG is the lowest emissions fuel available at scale in the shipping sector today. It has no near rival in this regard.
According to Sphera’s latest study, LNG reduces greenhouse gases by up to 23% on a well-to-wake basis and up to 30% on a tank-to-wake basis compared with current oil-based marine fuels. LNG-fuelled vessels emit virtually no SOx while dramatically limiting emissions of NOx. It also virtually eliminates particulate matter.
As both the Sphera and World Bank reports rightly point out, greenhouse gas performance must include measurement, and effective management of methane. Methane, a potent greenhouse gas, has to be tackled across the supply chain.
And new technologies, such as sensors and drones, are providing the innovation for the industry to improve its performance here. For example, Shell has a methane emissions target of 0.2% by 2025. On the ship itself, the Sphera report uses the very latest primary data sources, peer-reviewed, in its finding that engines built today experience only minimal methane slip.
So, to minimise cumulative emissions from the shipping sector before future fuels are available in enough quantity for the global shipping fleet, LNG is the choice today.
And when we turn to the need for a global bunkering network, LNG is available in more than 150 ports around the world. And this is growing to meet demand – there are now more than 600 LNG-fuelled vessels on the water.
Ports such as Rotterdam, Singapore and Canaveral are seeing the case to invest. And this investment, used by LNG today, is interchangeable with bio and synthetic options providing a low-risk, long-term decarbonisation alternative for infrastructure players and shipowners.
LNG already has its own pathway to decarbonisation through bio-LNG. The European Biogas Association expects an increase in biogas in Europe by 2030 to be 10 times today’s volumes, and according to a study by the International Energy Agency, every part of the world has significant scope to produce biogas and/or biomethane, a fundamental part of bio-LNG. Other technologies, such as carbon capture and storage and synthetic-LNG, will also go through the development cycle to play a role.
We believe LNG must be a part of the solution to ensure the newbuild investments the sector makes today, which will be the legacy fleet for the coming decades, have as low emissions as possible. In addition, new technologies and feedstocks will enable LNG to incrementally decarbonise over that same time period.
Discuss LNG as a marine fuel in The case for LNG and LPG-fuelled tankers webinar, part of the free Tanker Shipping & Trade Webinar Week, 10-14 May 2021. Sign up here to ensure your chance to question the experts in their fields.