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CE Delft studies availability and cost of LBM and LSM as viable bunker fuel

26 Mar 2020

Global multi-sector industry coalition SEA-LNG on Wednesday (25 March) released the latest in its series of independently conducted reports.

The CE Delft study analyses the availability and costs of Liquefied Bio Methane (LBM) and Liquefied Synthetic Methane (LSM) and concludes that both could become available in sufficient quantities to make a contribution towards future decarbonisation for the shipping industry, and that the costs need not be significantly higher than those of other low- and zero-carbon fuels.

The study explores the potential availability and cost of LBM and LSM produced from renewable electricity with the aim of providing industry-leading, timely, and proven analysis to support the growing case for LBM and LSM in driving forward LNG as a decarbonisation solution towards 2030, 2050, and beyond, said  SEA-LNG.

The findings are that both LBM and LSM are scalable solutions for the maritime sector, with estimated sustainable global supplies potentially exceeding the demands of shipping in the future, and likely to be commercially competitive relative to other low- and zero-carbon fuels. 

Further, the growing LNG-fuelled fleet could use LBM or LSM without requiring major modifications, and the existing supply infrastructure will remain fit for bunkering purposes with either fuel.

The study was conducted by independent research and consultancy organisation CE Delft and commissioned by SEA-LNG. 

“Based on an extensive review of the global availability of biomass, and the maturity of technologies to produce biomethane and synthetic methane, we conclude that, in principle, sufficient amounts could be produced to fuel the shipping sector,” Dagmar Nelissen, Senior Researcher, CE Delft.

“However, other sectors are also likely to demand methane, and there needs to be significant investments in production capacity”.

Analysis of the global sustainable biomass resource shows that biomethane from energy crops, agricultural residues, forestry products and residues could significantly exceed the global total energy demand of the maritime sector. 

The sustainable potential for LBM could be substantially higher in 2050 compared to 2030, even when excluding aquatic biomass, which has the potential to play a dominant role in the long term.

The production costs of LBM and LSM could be broadly comparable to other renewable fuels like green hydrogen and ammonia.  

Compared to those fuels, LBM and LSM have the advantage that they can be transported, stored and bunkered, utilising existing and technically matured LNG infrastructure.

“The shipping industry faces unprecedented challenges if it is to meet the IMO’s decarbonisation targets,” commented Peter Keller, Chairman, SEA-LNG. 

“Confusing and countering claims abound for different zero-emissions technologies – all of which require decades of research and development before they are proven safe for marine operations, globally available, and commercially viable.

“In combination, the studies we have commissioned definitely proves that, through LBM and LSM, LNG offers a clear pathway to net zero-carbon emissions from shipping while also future-proofing ship owners’ investments. 

“By investing in LNG-fuelled vessels now, ship owners can realise immediate GHG benefits – up to 21% on a Well-to-Wake basis and 28%, Tank-to-Wake, including the impact of methane emissions. 

“These LNG-based assets can use non-fossil fuel methane such as LBM and LSM with little to no modifications. As LBM and LSM become available at scale, the carbon-free future will become reality.”

The full study is available for download here.


Photo credit: SEA/LNG
Published: 26 March, 2020

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