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T&E: LNG marine fuel ‘as bad as’ traditional bunkers

26 Oct 2018

Using natural gas as a fuel for marine transport is as bad for the climate as using conventional marine fuels, finds a new report commissioned by NGO Transport & Environment (T&E).

The study Natural gas-powered vehicles and ships – the facts found greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the consumption of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to be close to that of marine gas oil; but the figures are highly dependent on engine methane slip and upstream leakage.

Methane has 28 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide (CO2), and when an engine burns LNG unburned methane also escapes through the exhaust. Methane is also released ‘upstream’ during the production and transportation of fossil gas, it explains.

For ships, LNG has a clear benefit compared to heavy fuel oil although nitrogen oxide (NOx) after-treatment systems and further desulphurisation of existing marine fuels can achieve similar results. 

The sulphur standard for road petrol and diesel is 100 times better than the marine standard in sulphur emission control areas (SECAs). Therefore, marine fuels can be further desulphurised to deliver high air pollution benefits without the need for replacing the ships and associated bunkering infrastructure to run on LNG, suggests the report.

“Gas cars, trucks and ships have no benefits for the climate and they’re a distraction from our real objective, zero-emission transport. Governments should resist the gas lobby’s offensive and stop wasting precious public money on gas infrastructure and tax breaks for fossil gas,” said Jori Sihvonen, clean fuels officer at T&E.

“The idea that we can decarbonise transport with renewable gas is a pipedream. What little biomethane and electro-methane we’ll have will be needed to decarbonise the heating and power sectors, which currently rely on fossil gas.

“Pushing biomethane in transport actually makes the climate battle harder by depriving industry and domestic heating of this limited renewable resource.”

A copy of the full report Natural gas-powered vehicles and ships – the facts is available here.

Photo credit: Transport & Environment
Published: 26 October, 2018


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