With coronavirus creating upheaval in virtually all aspects of shipping, there’s been plenty of speculation about the industry’s medium- and long-term decarbonisation plans being suspended. That should not happen, writes GoodFuels chief executive Dirk Kronemeijer
The scale of challenge of IMO’s decarbonisation target – 50% by 2050 – cannot be overstated, and reaching it will require a combination of advanced clean technologies and pioneering new fuels.
Given this, and given the limited timeframe we have to innovate, with vessels built in 2030 potentially already having to comply with the 2050 target, it is clear that halving shipping’s GHG emissions requires substantial and collaborative effort by maritime and energy stakeholders to take place now.
Earlier this year, a study by University Maritime Advisory Services – University College London (UMAS) estimated that the investment needed between 2030 and 2050 to decarbonise shipping will total approximately US$1.4Trn. We must not lose the momentum we have gathered as a sector in recent years, and should instead take a long-term view, so that surprise costs and even greater operational upheaval does not sneak up on us later in the decade.
"Shipping is a naturally conservative industry, but it is this mindset that may be most impacted by the current economic and world health situation"
This challenge requires radical and new forms of collaboration, where multiple parties work together to achieve a common goal.
It is evident that alternative fuels are going to be the main driver of decarbonisation (because they have the greatest potential for emissions reduction), so the industry needs to pick up the pace to get these fuels ready for market in the next few years.
That is why the work of first movers is so important. Shipping is a naturally conservative industry, but it is this mindset that may be most impacted by the current economic and world health situation.
We already see signs of this shift, away from relative conservatism to leaders wanting to be seen as first movers. For the past five years, we have focused on realising the widescale use of sustainable marine biofuel, which has enabled us to develop a carbon-busting solution that is scalable, truly sustainable, technically compliant and affordable. With this scalability, marine biofuel effectively allows shipowners and operators to comply with new legislation around sulphur content for marine fuels, as well as future regulations on carbon reduction by 2030 and 2050.
By working with tanker companies, such as NORDEN and Stena Bulk – as well as leaders in other segments – and acting as their transition partner, we are proving that sustainable marine biofuel is a key piece in the puzzle for today’s shipping’s decarbonisation journey, which can be used now, and not at some indeterminate point in the future.
Despite COVID-19, we are still able to bunker our sustainable biofuel-oil out of Amsterdam-Rotterdam-Antwerp on a weekly basis to serious volumes, and continue to trial with those looking to implement sustainable marine fuel for the first time. By continuing these long-term collaborations with forward-thinking marine companies, we continue to drive uptake of sustainable marine biofuel as a real alternative to conventional fossil-based fuel.
The next decade will define shipping’s mindset on decarbonisation, and a significant step must be taken to achieve a carbon-neutral supply chain. Accelerating this trend further requires more marine leaders stepping forward with an ambitious mentality. In the bigger picture, these first movers are leading the energy transition at this crucial moment, and that should be celebrated, watched and followed by the industry as a whole.
Dirk Kronemeijer is the chief executive officer of biofuel supplier GoodFuels based in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.