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Alternative Fuels

XFuel: Second-generation biofuels will unlock new possibilities in shipping’s green new era

Advanced biofuels allow shipowners, bunker suppliers, and port authorities to freely blend biofuel and non-biofuel bunkers to cut their emissions, says Dr Nicholas Bell, CEO of XFuel.

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The following is an article written by Dr Nicholas Ball, CEO of second-generation biofuel and refinery provider XFuel on the role second-generation biofuels can play in accelerating shipping’s decarbonisation. The article was shared with Singapore bunkering publication Manifold Times:

Second-generation biofuels from sustainable waste feedstocks are urgently needed to accelerate shipping’s decarbonisation transition, and deliver a cost-effective and fast path to net-zero.

The shipping sector is increasingly recognising the importance of decarbonisation. However it still lacks a definitive pathway to reach it. Regulators, including the IMO and the EU, have set concrete emissions reduction targets – with even more ambitious targets expected in the coming years. At the same time, cargo owners are starting to put commercial pressure on shipowners and charterers to deliver low-carbon options today.

Yet, commercial shipping is widely recognised as one of the hardest sectors to decarbonise. According to a recent report by think tank Nordic West Office, entitled Maritime Transition Scenarios, on its current trajectory, the shipping industry will fail to meet the IMO targets of 50% CO2 reductions by 2050. It might meet Paris targets under the most optimistic of scenarios, but this isn’t guaranteed. 

This sentiment of “falling short of targets” appears consensual. In September, London-based energy consultants Argus Media warned that the upcoming Cop 27 was unlikely to speed up maritime emissions cuts. Equally, MAN Energy Solutions’ Chief Sales Officer Wayne Jones recently warned that the marine industry is moving too slowly in relation to decarbonisation, and encouraged regulatory bodies to adopt regulations that invite capital into the production of green fuels.

Indeed, if shipping is to reach zero carbon it will need new technology, which will require significant investment, particularly when it comes to fuels and scaling them up. The vast majority of mooted new fuels (such as hydrogen, ammonia or methanol) require new engines alongside an entire new global bunkering supply chain and infrastructure. 

Nicholas portrait

Flexible feedstocks and true sustainability 

A biofuel’s feedstock, or raw ingredient that is converted into fuel, dictates its commercial viability and its sustainability. Food crops have traditionally been used to create first-generation biofuels. While first gen biofuels have broadly helped to reduce transport GHG emissions over several decades, they possess clear limitations. 

Biofuels that use crops either require that food crops are replaced, or that more land is converted into farmland. This raises legitimate questions about their saleability. Increasing first-generation biofuel production to meet projected demand will not be possible without dramatically impacting food security or deforestation. 

This is where second-generation or advanced biofuels come in – low carbon fuels from abundant and sustainable waste feedstocks that can meet immediate demand with little or no need for adaptation, and without the risk of destabilising agricultural and forest systems.

So how do we scale advanced biofuels? A typical box ship will have the capacity to take on between 1.5 and 2 million gallons of bunkers. For a second-generation biofuel to be viable in the long term, a feedstock must therefore be available in large enough volumes in the right location to meet fuel demand (although there is also immense value for anything that can be used as a drop-in fuel and introduced gradually). 

Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO) – currently the most available second-generation biofuel on the market –  highlights this concern. It is created through expensive hydrocracking or hydrogenation processes with vegetable oil or animal fats, which are not available in high enough quantities to represent a turnkey solution on a global scale. 

But there are other existing options, with availability that can be scaled to meet the industry’s demand. This has been our focus at XFuel – to develop  second-generation technology that is able to use a wide range of biomass waste as feedstock. This means that we are able to source abundant and sustainable waste from the manufacturing, construction, and agricultural sectors to use as feedstock. This waste can be sourced in virtually any coastal area, and does not threaten food security or contribute to environmental degradation.

A complete replacement 

The majority of biofuels available today either cannot be used as a complete replacement for traditional bunkers, or are costly to produce. This represents a major barrier to widespread adoption and commercialisation, and makes it difficult for ports, bunker suppliers, and shipowners to create an effective supply infrastructure. 

Moreover, the compatibility issues associated with many current biofuels often mean that traditional infrastructure cannot be used. For example, the corrosive nature of some often means that storage and transfer infrastructure must be replaced or adapted, requiring significant long-term investment. 

Yet, it is possible to create a biofuel that can be used as a complete replacement in existing engines and infrastructure at a competitive price to traditional VLSFO or ULSFO marine fuels. XFuel’s low carbon sustainable fuels achieve this, using a highly efficient and non energy-intensive biorefinery method to produce ‘drop in’ products that meet the specifications of a traditional fossil fuel i.e. ISO 8217:2017 for shipping. 

This low pressure, low heat process reduces the marginal cost of producing fuels (OPEX), making us price competitive and allowing our projects to have low CAPEX  requirements that deliver profitability for small and large projects alike.  

Second-generation biofuels can help the shipping sector meet its decarbonisation objectives today, without waiting on new technologies or massive global infrastructure projects. High-quality advanced biofuels allow shipowners, bunker suppliers, and port authorities to take a flexible and practical approach to cutting their emissions, freely blending biofuel and non-biofuel bunkers. It is paramount that the sector starts advancing towards a sustainable second-generation future as soon as possible. 

Related: Argus Media: Cop 27 unlikely to speed up maritime emissions cuts

 

Photo credit: XFuel
Published: 22 September, 2022

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Alternative Fuels

SMW 2024: Yinson GreenTech partners with EPS on electric vessel trials

YGT’s marine electrification business, marinEV, and EPS will perform trials involving the first cargo delivery with an electric vessel and the first crew transfer with an electric vessel in Singapore.

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SMW 2024: Yinson GreenTech and EPS forge alliance on electric vessel trials

Yinson GreenTech (YGT), a leading green technology solutions provider, has signed a Letter of Intent (LOI) with Eastern Pacific Shipping (EPS), a global leader in maritime transportation, during Singapore Maritime Week 2024, both parties said in a joint statement on Thursday (18 April). 

This collaboration, spearheaded by YGT’s marine electrification business, marinEV, marks a significant step towards cleaner and more sustainable maritime operations in Singapore, with the following key milestones on the horizon:

Electric vessel deployments

  • First cargo delivery with an electric vessel in the Port of Singapore: marinEV and EPS aim to be at the forefront of maritime history by jointly facilitating the first cargo delivery using an electric vessel within the Port of Singapore. This aligns with both companies’ commitment to environmental responsibility and demonstrates their dedication to creating a net zero world.
  • First crew transfer with an electric vessel in Singapore: Recognising the critical role of crew transfers in maritime operations, marinEV and EPS will collaborate on the first crew transfer conducted by an electric vessel in Singapore. This trial will provide valuable data on the feasibility, efficiency, and safety of electric vessels for crew transportation, paving the way for wider industry adoption.

SMW 2024: Yinson GreenTech and EPS forge alliance on electric vessel trials

The Hydromover and Lake Herman

Building upon their commitment to sustainability, marinEV will enter into a collaborative agreement with EPS. This partnership aims to integrate electric vessels into last-mile delivery operations, significantly reducing Scope 3 emissions and contributing to a cleaner shipping industry. By jointly defining ambitious emission reduction goals, marinEV and EPS will work together to create a more sustainable future for maritime transportation.

“At Yinson GreenTech, we believe that collaboration is key to unlocking a cleaner future for our oceans. Our partnership with Eastern Pacific Shipping on these groundbreaking electric vessel deployments in Singapore signifies a major leap forward,” said Jan-Viggo Johansen, Managing Director of marinEV. 

“Together, we are not only making history but also paving the way for a future where clean and efficient transportation solutions become the norm. This is an exciting moment for us, and we are committed to working closely with EPS, our existing partners and other industry leaders to achieve a truly sustainable maritime landscape.

“It is heartening to see like-minded partners in the industry adopt the ‘act now’ approach like us, taking action and exploring innovative solutions on all fronts,” said Cyril Ducau, Chief Executive Officer of EPS.

“This collaboration with Yinson GreenTech not only offers a greener transportation alternative, it also builds on the industry’s collective commitment to accelerate the decarbonisation of shipping. We don’t do things because they are easy. We do it because they are difficult so that we leave no stones unturned in our efforts to decarbonise.”

Related: Yinson GreenTech all-electric crew transfer vessel to undergo sea trials in Singapore

 

Photo credit: Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore
Published: 19 April 2024

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Bunker Fuel

SMW 2024: Maritime International Advisory Panel discusses decarbonisation, green financing, digitalisation

Panel noted that financial institutions were willing to provide lending for suitable projects to support maritime decarbonisation with sufficient assurance that the default risks were managed.

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SMW 2024: Maritime International Advisory Panel discusses decarbonisation, green financing, digitalisation

The Maritime International Advisory Panel (IAP) held its third annual meeting on 16 April 2024, during the Singapore Maritime Week 2024. 

This year, the Maritime IAP held in-depth discussions on the key developments in the maritime sector, including decarbonisation, green financing, digitalisation and cybersecurity. 

Members of the panel who were present included Hiroaki Sakashita, President and CEO, ClassNK, Stephen Fewster, Managing Director, Global Head, Shipping Finance, ING Bank, Nick Brown, CEO, Lloyd’s Register, and Jonathan Wright, Global Managing Partner, Global Finance and Supply Chain Transformation Service Line Leader, IBM.

Established in 2022 by the Ministry of Transport (MOT) and the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA), the Maritime IAP aims to seek international perspectives on key long-term trends and developments that will shape the maritime industry. 

It comprises global leaders from the maritime sector, adjacent industries and academia, and is chaired by Mr Chee Hong Tat, Minister for Transport and Second Minister for Finance. Local industry and union leaders also joined the meeting to share their perspectives.

IAP comprises global leaders from the maritime sector, adjacent industries and academia, and is chaired by Mr Chee Hong Tat, Minister for Transport and Second Minister for Finance.

IAP comprises global leaders from the maritime sector, adjacent industries and academia, and is chaired by Mr Chee Hong Tat, Minister for Transport and Second Minister for Finance.

Key Trends and Opportunities for the Maritime Sector

The Maritime IAP highlighted that despite geopolitical uncertainties and supply chain shifts, there were significant opportunities for the global maritime sector in the following areas:

  • Accelerating the green transition towards a low- and zero-carbon future, supported by important enablers such as financing for green shipping;
  • Deepening the utilisation of technology and digitalisation while strengthening cyber resilience; and
  • Training and re-skilling the maritime workforce to take on the new job opportunities of the future.

The Maritime IAP emphasised that Singapore plays an important role in facilitating global trade flows, supporting global maritime decarbonisation, and advancing maritime digitalisation and cyber-resilience. 

Singapore’s position as a trusted and established maritime eco-system could catalyse green financing solutions, unlock the benefits of deeper utilisation of technology and data, and position it as a training hub to develop the skills needed by the future maritime workforce.

Strengthening Maritime Ecosystem Amid Global Shifts and Green Transition

Against the backdrop of global uncertainties, the Maritime IAP highlighted that Singapore could be an important trade and maritime intermediary, given its status as a neutral, trusted, and leading maritime hub. With growing trade to emerging regions as trade flows shifted, the panel believed Singapore would be an important conduit for new trades going forward. The panel further suggested for Singapore to become a trusted maritime technology hub for the development, installation, and accreditation of critical technologies, especially for those fitted onboard ships.

The Maritime IAP noted that amidst the ongoing green transition, there would be competing demands for various low- or zero-carbon fuels (e.g. hydrogen, ammonia, methanol) from other sectors.

The Maritime IAP highlighted the need to draw on a wide range of green financing instruments and investments to catalyse change, address hurdles and accelerate the sector’s green transition. 

The panel also noted that financial institutions were willing to provide lending for suitable projects to support maritime decarbonisation with sufficient assurance that the default risks were managed. To address the financing needs of the sector, the panel suggested for maritime stakeholders to pool their needs, while demand aggregation would help smaller companies gain better access to suitable solutions and financing, and also allow financial institutions to better determine and manage the risks involved.

 

Photo credit: Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore
Published: 19 April 2024

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LNG Bunkering

GLBP submits permit applications to build and operate Galveston LNG bunker terminal

Small scale natural gas liquefaction facility will be the region’s first dedicated LNG bunker terminal to provide clean LNG as bunker fuel.

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Galveston LNG Bunker Port

Galveston LNG Bunker Port (GLBP) recently announced that it filed applications with the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) seeking authorization to site, construct and operate the proposed GLBP small scale natural gas liquefaction facility on Shoal Point in Texas City, Texas, in the heart of the Galveston Bay/Greater Houston port complex. 

The GLBP project will be the region’s first dedicated LNG bunker terminal to provide clean LNG as marine fuel.

Galveston LNG Bunker Port has filed key regulatory applications with relevant government agencies, including the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) for the Clean Water Act and Rivers & Harbors Act, Texas Railroad Commission (TRRC) for the Texas Clean Water Act (CWA) Section 401 Water Quality Certification, and United States Coast Guard (USCG) for Waterway Suitability Assessment (WSA).

The USACE application for the proposed project includes two natural gas liquefaction trains capable of producing approximately 600,000 gallons per day of LNG; two 3-million-gallon full containment LNG storage tanks; natural gas liquids and refrigerant storage; feed gas pre-treatment facilities; a bunker vessel loading berth and associated marine and loading facilities.

“The Galveston LNG Bunker Port project continues to meet its milestones, and we are very excited to announce that the necessary permitting applications have been submitted,” said Shaun Davison, Chief Development Officer of Pilot LNG. 

“We are confident that we will meet the rigorous requirements of State & Local permitting authorities to ensure that the project is delivered on-time and will meet the ever-growing demand for clean fuel supply in the Galveston Bay, and US Gulf Coast region by the end of 2026.”

Pilot LNG and Seapath Group signed a project development agreement in September of 2023 that provides a framework for the development, technical design, permitting and marketing of the proposed liquefaction project, which is estimated to come online in late 2026. 

The global maritime industry is increasingly adopting LNG as a marine fuel to significantly reduce emissions and meet tightening regulations, including IMO 2020, which came into effect January 1st, 2020.

Joshua Lubarsky, President of Seapath Group, said: “Our experience in developing, building and operating energy infrastructure will help us with this much-needed facility.” Lubarsky continues “This facility is a critical investment into the resilience of the United States’ maritime infrastructure, and upon construction will immediately provide positive environmental and economic impacts in Texas City, Galveston Bay, and the US Gulf Coast.”

Ongoing development of the project is subject to a number of risks and uncertainties. The final investment decision to proceed with construction is contingent upon completing required commercial agreements, acquiring all necessary permits and approvals, and securing financing commitments.

Related: Galveston LNG Bunker Port secures site in Texas for proposed LNG bunkering facility
Related: Seapath, Pilot LNG launch JV to develop dedicated LNG bunkering facility in US Gulf Coast
Related: Houston: Pilot LNG announces regulatory filing for Galveston LNG Bunker Port
Related: Pilot LNG submits documentation to USCG for proposed LNG Bunker Port at Galveston

Related: Pilot LNG awards Galveston LNG Bunker Port FEED contract to Wison Offshore & Marine

 

Photo credit: Galveston LNG Bunker Port
Published: 19 April 2024

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