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DNV ‘Live from Singapore’ webinar discusses operational efficiency and biofuel bunkers

17 Feb 2023

“Do what we can now, with what we have!” This was the clear message on maritime decarbonization in a recent ‘Live from Singapore’ webinar organized by classification society DNV.

The panel explored strategies and practical solutions to decarbonize existing fleets, and how the industry can work together to solve this common challenge.

While fleet owners and operators are facing immense pressure, webinar panellists admitted that things will take time, and time is not on the side of shipping – and all other industries – to make the monumental changes to reach Net Zero goals, or at least halve emissions from international shipping by 50 percent until 2050.

Optimizing energy efficiency of existing fleets

Despite the huge challenges, panellists agreed there is a lot we can do right now that can make a big difference.

Ship operators can cut emissions immediately by introducing smart energy efficiency measures and it is possible to bunker low-carbon biofuels without having to make any changes to fuel tanks or engines. 

Anglo American’s Global Head of Shipping Peter Lye told the audience that his company was already working on a number of ways to reduce carbon intensity in its ocean freight operations. For example, it had successfully trialled (in mid-2021) a biodiesel blend, produced in Singapore from waste cooking oil, to power one of their charter vessels during a voyage to South Africa. 

Fellow panellist François-Xavier Accard, Managing Director of CMA CGM International Shipping, didn’t disagree, but made it clear that there was “not one solution”. Alternative fuels must be an important part of the mix, but we must not lose sight of the need for greater operational efficiency, including managing ship routing. He also called for more to be done to harmonize regulations for all in the maritime industry. 

DNV’s representative on the panel – Girish Sreeraman, Area Business Development Manager for Southeast Asia and the Indian Subcontinent –could not go past the word “collaboration” to sum up the importance of addressing decarbonization for the maritime sector. 

On alternative fuels, he made it clear that much more investment was needed, while optimization of vessels’ performance was a move in the right direction by IMO. With its Carbon Intensity Indicator (CII), ship operators needed more time to meet the reporting requirements.

More transparency needed

Sanjay Kuttan, Chief Technology Officer at the Global Centre for Maritime Decarbonization (GCMD), explained that it was vital to share data and lessons learned from the CII implementation. Without transparency, the wider industry was not going to be able to collectively apply what’s needed or adapt technology to make a meaningful difference.

Mr Accard from CMA CGM did caution to say that some of the data collected is “sensitive” and not all of it can be freely shared. Admittedly, it is important to collect all relevant data from the vessels, he said, regarding speed, fuel use, energy efficiency measures taken. But he insisted that the regulations must be clear and must be applied to all.  

Mr Lye of Anglo American pointed out that transparency and sharing of relevant data is important to customers and the whole supply chain. “They need to know that what we’re doing works for them. And they have a right to demand information if they are expected to be paying more.”

Biofuels to bridge the gap

Biofuels certainly received a lot attention from panellists and the virtual webinar attendees, whose questions were ably moderated by host Yvonne Chan.

It fell to Mr Kuttan to tackle many of the biofuel questions because his organisation GCMD is in the middle of a study which aims to establish an assurance framework that ensures supply chain transparency of drop-in biofuels, whose applicability can be extended to future drop-in fuels. 

He explained that it covers bio-LNG, bio-methanol, and green ammonia, when they become available in meaningful quantities, but also focuses on currently available biofuels, like biodiesel from used cooking oil and agricultural wastes.  

It was important to understand all aspects of biofuels, including availability, accessibility, supply and demand, as well as the potential to scale up production. 

Mr Kuttan said he is “very encouraged” by the results of the survey with webinar participants which showed that by far the majority were either already using biofuels, committed to, or planning to commit to biofuels in the near future.  

Verifying the supply chain of biofuels

The industry and its customers needed to be reassured that the use of biofuels can be measured for the genuine reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, Mr Sreeraman said. 

If the source and the supply chain can be reliably verified, biofuels could become 100% carbon neutral fuel for vessels. There must be clear guidelines, though, and acceptable international standards.

Mr Kuttan was asked if he considered that the International Sustainability Carbon Certification (ISCC) was the best means to verify the source and supply chain of approved biofuels.

He told the audience that GCMD was fully evaluating all certification standards, including ISCC – which was designed in Europe to provide sustainability solutions for fully traceable and deforestation free supply chains – and has already been applied to biofuel supply in Europe and Asia. 

He also made the point that the GCMD study needs to show how the maritime industry can cope with the expected ”lower energy density” of biofuels, and how this impacts the accessibility of biofuels for bunkering in different parts of the world.

Ambition, collaboration, harmonization, action

Moderator Yvonne Chan concluded the very fruitful discussion by asking each panellist for a buzzword or two as a key take-away for all participants:

For CMA CGM’s François-Xavier Accard, it was the need for “harmonized regulations for all.”

Peter Lye, for Anglo American, summed it up in one word: “ambition’.

DNV’s Girish Sreeraman reinforced the need of “collaboration”. 

It was left to Sanjay Kuttan to elaborate – and take us back to the beginning – with his summary: “Bend the curve. Do what we can now, with what we have!” 

If you missed the webinar episode, you may access it here.

Related: DNV ‘Live from Singapore’ webinar: Panel explores challenges and opportunities in maritime digitalization
Related: Future-proofing shipping: The decarbonization game-changer


Photo credit: DNV
Published: 17 February, 2023

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