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LR and UMAS release ‘Zero-Emission Vessels Transition Pathways’ study

30 Jan 2019

Lloyd’s Register (LR) and University Maritime Advisory Services (UMAS) on Tuesday (29 January) have released the ‘Zero-Emission Vessels Transition Pathways’ study.

It aims to show what is needed to enable the transition, both at the ship and supply infrastructure level, to deliver zero-emission vessels (ZEVs) that are crucial to achieve the IMO’s Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Strategy 2050 ambition. It also demonstrates to all stakeholders what action needs to be taken now.

The study seeks to address key questions about ZEVs such as: what needs to happen between now and in the next three decades for ship deployment? And what needs to happen within this period to develop the supply infrastructure?

It looks at the key milestones, barriers and enablers over the specified timeframe, and considers cost implications, operating profile and how policy measures such as carbon pricing could influence the outcomes.

The ‘Zero-Emission Vessels Transition Pathways’ study indicates that:

  • All pathways explored with the study will achieve the IMO’s ambition of at least 50% reduction in GHG emissions by 2050 and go beyond to show that zero-carbon is possible.

2020 – 2030 is the most significant decade, stressing the urgency for early action.

  • There is still uncertainty when choosing one fuel, one technology and one route and therefore this decade will need to see full-scale pilots and prototypes, the development of policy, standards and rules, and will be characterised by first adopters driven by consumer pressure.
  • Batteries in short-sea markets, or if used as hybrids, and on-shore power supply will play an important role in reducing the dependency on fossil fuels. Easy to store zero or 
    low-carbon fuels (for example sustainable biofuel and methanol) may also be an attractive solution as existing infrastructure and machinery can be used to ease the transition.

The 2030s – scaling up of zero-carbon solutions.

  • The evolution of shipping’s fuel mix is closely linked to the evolution of the wider energy system, so a clear signal needs to be given to the potential fuel producers. We expect to see a consolidation of what the dominant technologies for use on board will be and the interactions between end-fuel price, machinery costs and revenue loss will be better understood. We will start to see ships being designed to store less energy on board and changes to their operating profile to bunker more frequently.

Up to the 2050s

  • Although the likelihood of any pathway is difficult to assess, we may experience more than one switch. For example, a growing share of biofuels in the 2020s with on-going efforts to develop fuels produced from Renewable electricity, referred to as electro-fuels, resulting in a major shift to electro-fuels in the 2040s and 2050s. We expect that by 2050, and beyond consolidation of the market, to see an end fuel mix dominated by one family of fuels.

“2020 – 2030 is the most significant decade and the study stresses the urgency for early action,” said LR’s Global Sustainability Manager, Katharine Palmer.

“Scaling up of zero-carbon fuels relies on clarity of the direction taken in the wider energy system. Uncertainty risks delaying important investments within the world’s fleet and infrastructure.”

“It doesn’t happen very often, to live such moments of a global transition towards a new paradigm,” notes UMAS’ Principal Consultant, Carlo Raucci.

“This study has given us the opportunity to reflect on the actions needed to achieve a desirable future with zero-emission vessels dominating the shipping industry.

“There are different paths to reach this goal and every turn of a path has its seduction and promises attached. A path may hold so many possibilities for shipping stakeholders but what is clear though is that the era of emitting fossil fuels must be left behind.”

Download the Zero-Emission Vessels: Transition Pathways study here.

Published: 30 January, 2019

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