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DNV: Challenging road ahead for retrofitting to dual-fuel engines

Cost of retrofitting, including fuel storage and fuel supply system, ranges between USD 5 mil – USD 15 mil and, as a rule of thumb, this should not exceed 25% of newbuild cost of a ship to be economically viable.





Classification society DNV on Tuesday (16 May) released a Maritime Impact report on retrofitting ships with dual-fuel engines to run on alternative bunker fuels and discusses the challenges that comes with it:

The maritime industry’s decarbonization goals are multi-pronged and complex. A collaboration between DNV and engine designer MAN Energy Solutions examines how retrofitting the existing maritime fleet to dual-fuel engines capable of running on sustainable fuels can contribute to these goals.

In order for the shipping industry to achieve decarbonization that is sufficiently in line with the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, a full life-cycle approach – also known as a ‘well-to-wake emissions’ perspective – needs to be adopted. This forces the maritime industry to assess the emissions of shipping in a comprehensive way and moves shipowners away from the ‘tank-to-wake’ approach, where emissions reporting can be pushed upstream to the production of the fuel. At IMO’s MEPC 80 this approach will be further discussed. 

‘Well-to-wake emissions’ perspective raises standards for existing fleet

While a number of innovations are being applied to the 1,500–2,000 two-stroke and 750 four-stroke new vessels that are launched per year, the greatest challenge to achieving maritime GHG reductions is for the existing merchant fleet, which consists of approximately 55,000 ships with two-stroke engines and 30,000 ships with four-stroke engines.  

Retrofitting these existing ships to be able to run on alternative fuels like ammonia and methanol is one of the options available to the maritime industry to achieve desired reductions in emissions. However, the path ahead for retrofitting is uncertain. 

“Apart from efficiency improvements and the use of biofuels, retrofitting is another option for the existing fleet to achieving decarbonization targets,” says DNV’s Business Development Manager Christos Chryssakis. “However, there is no requirement for retrofitting so the future timeline for achieving this is not clear.” 

Biofuels not scalable for maritime industry

Currently, the most straightforward way of reducing emissions on the existing fleet is by running single-fuel engines on sustainable biofuels. Several biofuels, such as FAME and HVO, have ‘drop-in’ properties which means that they can be blended with existing fossil fuels. This is an attractive option to shipowners as it provides them with a flexible way of achieving decarbonization without having to make large capital investments.  

However, a number of key challenges remain with biofuels. Although 2022 was a record-breaking year for the consumption of biofuels, this still accounted for just 0.1% of the maritime energy mix.  

“Demand for biofuels is high from other industries, and supply is limited,” says Chryssakis. “This means that the maritime industry may struggle to acquire as much biofuel as it needs and that prices will be high. Therefore, it currently seems quite unlikely that biofuels will be a magic bullet for decarbonizing the entire existing maritime fleet.”

Retrofitting fleet provides long-term solution

With biofuels currently unscalable, converting large ships to dual-fuel engines is increasingly seen as one of the ways that the maritime industry could achieve its decarbonization targets. Retrofitting a single-fuel engine to dual-fuel enables a ship engine to run on a second sustainable fuel, as long as this is accompanied by a pilot injection of conventional fuel. While this conventional fuel will primarily be a traditional fossil fuel, sustainable biofuels or synthetic fuels can also be used.  

Dual-fuel conversions have already been applied to converting the engines of energy carriers to the fuel being carried, most frequently to LNG and LPG. This has generally resulted in around a 15–20% reduction in exhaust emissions, highlighting the key role that both of these fuels occupy as transition fuels. However, in order to achieve decarbonization targets, dual-fuel conversions need to be made for fuels which can be produced to emit close to zero ‘well-to-wake emissions’, such as green ammonia, green methanol and e-fuels.  

Larger ships most suitable for retrofitting

According to assessments by DNV and MAN ES, key retrofitting requirements for ships with two-stroke engines are electronically controlled engines, a bore size of at least 50 centimetres and a sea trial conducted after 1 January 2015. The cost of retrofitting, including the fuel storage and fuel supply system, ranges between USD 5 million and USD 15 million depending on the type of fuel and, as a rule of thumb, this should not exceed 25% of the newbuild cost of a ship to be economically viable.  

A ship should typically have a minimum newbuild cost of around USD 50 million to be suitable for retrofitting. Ships fitting these criteria include tankers above 50,000 DWT, bulkers above 160,000 DWT and containers above 7,000 TEU, among others. However, in some cases, such as for ships retrofitting to methanol, this cost can be lower. For four-stroke engines, ships with large bore sizes that conducted a sea trial 8–15 years ago appear to be the best fit for dual-fuel retrofitting. 

“Less than 10% of the existing global merchant fleet are regarded as theoretic candidates for retrofitting,” says Chryssakis. “We don’t see this happening today due to costs and uncertainties but think that this could be achieved over the next five to ten years, particularly after 2030 when regulations really start biting. However, it is difficult to predict how many of these will actually materialize.” 

IMO regulations hindering shipowners from dual-fuel retrofitting

Although several states are pushing the IMO to be even more ambitious and aim for zero emissions by 2050, some of the organization’s regulations are standing in the way of a swift, large-scale dual-fuel retrofitting of the global fleet. Of most concern to advocates of retrofitting, the IMO currently demands that a parent engine test of exactly the same electronically controlled engine type is required for a dual-fuel conversion to be NOx compliant. However, relatively new engine technologies such as methanol and ammonia are not available for all bore sizes, which means that a parent test engine is often unavailable for some desired retrofits to dual-fuel engines.  

In addition, certain older engine models, such as those running on heavy fuel oil (HFO), are not made for newbuilds anymore. This means that a newbuild parent engine is not available for testing in cases where a shipowner wishes to convert a HFO engine to dual fuel, thus making retrofitting extremely difficult under current IMO rules. Unless this regulation is amended, or new guidelines are developed, the pace of retrofitting will be significantly hindered.  

Retrofitting engines also faces practical challenges

A number of other hurdles lie on the road to large-scale retrofitting. The implementation of dual-fuel conversions is expected to be carried out by a limited number of shipyards, due to varying commercial priorities. This may lead to capacity issues if there is high demand for conversions. Furthermore, the complexity of these kinds of projects and current uncertainty around best practices leaves shipowners and yards open to potentially large cost overruns. The higher costs of alternative fuels will also increase the economic worries of shipowners. 

“The cost of fuels like ammonia and methanol presents an issue to shipowners wishing to reduce GHG emissions while also maintaining a profit,” says Chryssakis. “The price of these kinds of fuels is currently much higher than conventional marine fuels and shipowners will need to ensure that their charterers will be willing to cover the increased cost of fuels before committing large amounts of CAPEX to retrofitting projects.” 

Note: The full DNV Maritime Impact report titled ‘Challenging road ahead for retrofitting to dual-fuel engines’ can be found here


Photo credit: DNV/ MAN ES
Published: 23 May, 2023

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GCMD, BCG survey highlights three maritime decarbonisation archetypes

Survey identified three decarbonisation archetypes within the shipping industry, differentiated in their outlook, investment appetite and the challenges faced.





RESIZED Venti Views on Unsplash ship vessel

The Global Centre for Maritime Decarbonisation (GCMD) and Boston Consulting Group (BCG) conducted an industry survey to take stock of shipowners and operators’ progress in establishing six elements needed for the shipping industry to reach net zero, according to BCG on Wednesday (27 September). 

The survey saw strong participation from 128 shipowners and operators across vessel types, fleet sizes and geographies, which collectively own or operate 14,000 merchant vessels, and account for USD500 billion in revenue.

The duo found high decarbonisation ambitions: Most respondents viewed net zero as a strategic priority, and 77% had already set concrete decarbonisation targets. The industry has also mobilised resources to decarbonise: respondents are investing 2% of their revenues into green initiatives, and 87% have personnel working toward green objectives.

The path to net zero for shipowners and operators requires six elements:

  • A robust strategy and roadmap
  • Four specific decarbonisation levers to reduce emissions: operational efficiency, technological efficiency, fuel transition, and shipboard carbon capture
  • Enablers such as dedicated sustainability teams, strategic investments in green initiatives, internal carbon prices, and digitalization

While the industry has made some progress in adopting mature and cost-effective efficiency levers, adoption of complex or nascent levers remains low. Drop-in green fuels are constrained by costs and supply-side gaps, and optimism for future cleaner fuels is yet to translate into firm commitment.

The industry is now at a pivotal point, with many shipowners and operators ramping up their decarbonisation efforts. Three-quarters of respondents plan to increase investments in green initiatives. Stakeholders can build on this momentum with a variety of supportive actions. But to be effective, they need to tailor their interventions to address the specific challenges that shipowners and operators face at each stage of decarbonisation.

Three Decarbonisation Archetypes

GCMD and BCG saw three archetypes, differentiated in their outlook, investment appetite, and the challenges faced.

Frontrunners have the greatest ambitions and are willing to invest heavily. They are pushing boundaries, adopting even nascent decarbonisation levers, such as wind propulsion and air lubrication. A majority plan to pilot shipboard carbon capture solutions by 2025. Frontrunners are also planning to adopt methanol and ammonia as early as 2026 and 2029 respectively, and the availability of fuels and bunkering infrastructure will be critical to enabling adoption.

Followers believe in decarbonising their fleets, but have tighter investment thresholds and a near-term outlook. They have kept pace with Frontrunners in adopting mature and cost-effective efficiency levers, such as main engine improvements and slow steaming, but are behind in the adoption of nascent levers, such as wind propulsion and air lubrication.

Conservatives are still early in their decarbonisation journey, likely due to a lack of awareness and familiarity with the various decarbonisation levers, and the capabilities to assess and deploy them. They are best supported by measures that increase their familiarity with the levers and help contextualise them to their specific fleets and operational requirements.

The research highlights five key actions for stakeholders:

Conduct technical pilots and facilitate data sharing, especially for nascent levers

  • Create innovative financing mechanisms to de-risk adoption of less mature levers
  • Raise awareness, contextualize levers, and build capabilities, especially among Conservatives
  • Start to build out future fuels infrastructure at ports
  • Develop mechanisms to equalize and share the costs of levers across the ecosystem
  • Maritime decarbonization is a complex, critical endeavor. The successful implementation of these five key actions demands a whole-of-value-chain approach. By working together, stakeholders can transform the maritime sector into a beacon of environmental stewardship, and set a course for a greener future where decarbonization and commercial success go hand in hand.

Note: The GCMD-BCG Global Maritime Decarbonisation Survey report can be downloaded here.

Photo credit: Venti Views on Unsplash
Published: 28 September, 2023

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Itochu enters MoU with firms for study of ammonia bunkering safety for container carrier

Through this cooperation, several companies and organisations will come together to discuss and study safety issues during ammonia bunkering of a container carrier that uses ammonia as a bunker fuel.





Itochu enters MoU with firms for study of ammonia bunkering safety for container carrier

Tokyo-based Itochu Corporation on Tuesday (22 September) said it has executed a Memorandum of Understanding for a joint study of ammonia bunkering safety for an ammonia-fuelled container carrier among eight companies and organisations with the aim of implementing the use of ammonia as a bunker fuel in shipping industry. 

Through this cooperation, several companies and organisations will come together to discuss and study safety issues during ammonia bunkering of a container carrier that uses ammonia as a main fuel.

“This MOU for Ammonia Bunkering Safety for Container Carrier is an important milestone for social implementation of the use of ammonia as marine fuel on a global scale, and also a necessary step toward the realisation of the Integrated Project consisting of the construction of a global ammonia supply chain and the development of ammonia-fuelled ships by ITOCHU and its partner companies,” the firm said in a statement. 

A joint study that will be carried out under the MOU is a successive phase of the existing Joint Study Framework launched in 2021 by 34 companies and organizations including ITOCHU and Joint Study Framework for Ammonia Bunkering Safety launched in 2022 by 16 companies and organizations including ITOCHU, and focused on discussion and study of safety issues of ammonia bunkering to ammonia-fueled container carriers among experts from port authorities, container liner operators, bunkering related players and shipping company. 

A key subject of the joint study under this MOU for Ammonia Bunkering Safety for Container Carrier is the safety assessment for simultaneous operations of container cargo operations and ammonia bunkering in a container terminal, which is generally required for container carriers to achieve operational efficiencies.

ITOCHU said it is promoting a development of ammonia-fueled container carriers with potential partners following the development of ammonia-fuelled bulk carrier, which obtained Approval in Principle in 2022. ITOCHU will accelerate the development of an ammonia-fueled container carrier based on findings of this MOU for Ammonia Bunkering Safety for Container Carrier and plans to bring it to the international shipping market in late 2020s.

ITOCHU will accelerate the development of sustainable energy systems through these initiatives and ensure its contributions to the SDGs and improvement of related efforts, one of the basic policies laid out in its new medium-term management plan, as the company pursues a low-carbon society.

The eight companies and organisations are; Algeciras Bay Port Authority, Spain; Port of Rotterdam, Netherlands; CMA CGM, France; A.P.Moller Maersk A/S, Denmark; Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, Japan; Pavilion Energy Singapore, Singapore; TotalEnergies Marine Fuels, Singapore; and ITOCHU. 

Related: Itochu-led joint study of ammonia as an alternative marine fuel expands to 34 players
Related: 23 industry players participate in joint study of ammonia as an alternative marine fuel
Related: Singapore: Pavilion Energy, MOL, Total join Itochu and Vopak ammonia bunker fuel study
Related: Spain: Itochu, Peninsula enter MOU for joint development of ammonia bunkering in Gibraltar Strait
Related: Japan: “K” Line, ITOCHU and partners receive ClassNK AiP for ammonia-fuelled bulk carrier

Photo credit: Itochu Corporation
Published: 28 September, 2023

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Singapore signs MoUs with China partners to advance maritime collaboration 

One of the MoUs was with CCS to explore collaborations to reduce GHG emission through use of zero or near-zero emission bunker fuels and marine battery technology, amongst others.





Singapore signs MoUs with China partners to advance maritime collaboration

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) on Tuesday (26 September) said it has signed three Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with regional maritime administrations and partners in China to advance collaboration on digitalisation, decarbonisation, talent development, and information exchange. 

The MoUs were signed at the Port Authorities Roundtable 2023 hosted in Shanghai and at the sidelines of 3rd Global Sustainability Transport Forum in Beijing.

MPA-China Classification Society           

MPA signed an MoU with the China Classification Society (CCS) on 25 September 2023 on the sidelines of Global Sustainability Transport Forum in Beijing at the CCS Conference of Green and Intelligent Technologies for a Sustainable Shipping Industry. The MoU was signed by Mr Teo Eng Dih, Chief Executive of MPA and Mr Sun Feng, Chairman and President of CCS.

Under the MoU, MPA and CCS will explore collaborations to reduce greenhouse gas emission through the use of zero or near-zero emission bunker fuels and marine battery technology; co-innovate smart ships technologies with researchers, industry, and maritime startups through platforms such as PIER71™; and support the development of maritime talent and training through maritime scholarship programme and internship opportunities. Headquartered in Beijing, CCS is a full member of the International Association of Classifications Societies with over 120 offices worldwide.

MPA-Shanghai Municipal Transportation Commission

The MoU between MPA and the Shanghai Municipal Transportation Commission was announced on 22 September 2023 at the North Bund Forum in Shanghai, and signed on 24 September 2023 at the Port Authorities Roundtable 2023. The MoU was signed by Mr Teo Eng Dih, Chief Executive of MPA, and Mr Yu Fulin, Director General of Shanghai Municipal Transportation Commission.

The MoU aims to strengthen port and maritime ties between two of the world’s largest ports to foster mutual learning through information exchange on port and shipping developments, maritime policies and regulations, as well as training and research. The MoU also aims to co-develop digitalisation and decarbonisation solutions for shipping and port development. Given its role in the development of the Yangtze River delta, Shanghai is also one of China’s key transshipment centres.

MPA-Tianjin Port and Shipping Authority

An MoU between MPA and Tianjin Port and Shipping Authority (TPSA) was signed on 26 September 2023 on the sidelines of 3rd Global Sustainability Transport Forum. The MoU was signed by Mr Teo Eng Dih, Chief Executive of MPA, and Mr Wang Honghai, Director General of TPSA.

Under the MoU, MPA and TPSA will discuss issues relating to maritime digitalisation and decarbonisation; exchange information and experiences on development on shipping and regulatory framework, port developments, and maritime training; and facilitate maritime talent exchanges and collaborative opportunities in areas such as maritime research and development. 

Located in the Bohai Bay Rim Region, Tianjin Port is one of the largest ports in Northern China and one of the fastest growing Chinese ports in terms of annual container throughput.

Photo credit: Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore
Published: 27 September, 2023

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