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LNG marine fuel ‘an expensive distraction’, says T&E study

27 Jun 2018

Rolling out a liquified natural gas (LNG) infrastructure for shipping in Europe will cost $22 billion and deliver, at best, a 6% reduction in ship greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 compared to the replaced marine fuel, finds a new independent study for Transport & Environment (T&E) by the UMAS consultancy.

These emissions savings would likely be cancelled out by the growth of maritime trade, even before possibly higher rates of methane slip are considered, according to the research LNG as a marine fuel in the EU.

Further, a recent US study found methane slippage rates to be 60% higher than previously estimated.

The EU’s 2014 Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Directive requires member states to build a comprehensive LNG infrastructure across European ports, thus paving the way for a large LNG market. This will also make the decarbonisation of shipping an even more challenging transition for the industry, the study warns.

“LNG is not a bridge fuel, it’s an expensive distraction that will make it harder for the EU to achieve its shipping climate goals and reduce gas imports from places like Russia,” says Faig Abbasov, shipping officer at T&E.

“Europe should back future-proof technologies that would deliver the much greater emissions reductions that will be needed, including port-side charging or liquid hydrogen infrastructure. This means the EU needs to stop mandating LNG infrastructure in European ports.”

The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) in April agreed that international shipping must decarbonise and at least halve its GHG emissions by 2050, but it has not yet set out any measures to achieve this.

The study concludes if investments in LNG infrastructure are made now expecting a large LNG market for shipping, and if the sector subsequently switches to using zero-emission technologies in order to comply with the IMO 2050 decarbonisation plan, significant LNG assets (feeders, barges and storage tankers) will likely become stranded by 2050.

“There is an uncertain future demand for LNG as a marine fuel over the next 10 years,” notes Domagoj Baresic, consultant, UMAS and PhD researcher, UCL Energy Institute.

“On the one hand, it is an option for complying with the 2020 sulphur cap, but as it cannot enable the GHG reductions that have been committed to in the IMO’s initial strategy for GHG reduction, and the Paris temperature goals more generally, it is clear its role in shipping's transition to a low-carbon future can only be transient.”

The report is available for download here: Transport & Environment

Related: T&E: ‘Time to dump the obsession with LNG’

Published: 27 June, 2018
 

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