April 13, 2024

MarineCurrents

Current Maritime News | Clean Energy

Clean Energy and its facing challenges in the usage

4 min read
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At present, the shipping industry has carried out various degrees of marine research and practice for clean energy represented by LNG, methanol, biofuel, hydrogen, and ammonia.

1 LNG Fuel

The global shipping industry has put great effort into the energy transition process by developing low-carbon and zero-carbon fuels. This process may take long-term, undergoes research, innovative equipment, and sea trial test.

To close the gap, LNG fuel is the attractive solution with its characteristics are release less CO2 than traditional fuels, dramatically reducing nitrogen oxide emissions, does not emit soot, dust, or fumes. LNG’s volume has been reduced to 1/600th in comparison with its un-liquified state, making it easier to contain and transport.

LNG-powered ships or ships designed with LNG-ready concepts are widely known in 2021. LNG has attracted all the attention in all countries and large investments have been made in new ships and fuel supply infrastructure. We can see the explosion growth not only in LNG-fuel newbuilds but LNG plants. It can be predictable that LNG carriers segments will reach 819 ships at the end of 2025.

The strong development of LNG bunkering is a good sign for promoting LNG as a marine fuel.

The overall development still faces some challenges, mainly including:

  1. The carbon contained in LNG has a limited carbon dioxide emission reduction, and the escape of methane during use will have a certain impact on greenhouse gas emissions.
  2. The price of LNG is unstable. The supply of LNG gas in different seasons and regions is unstable, and the price fluctuates greatly. The lack of a reasonable pricing mechanism and supply system makes it difficult for ship owners to form stable expectations.

2 Methanol Fuel

Methanol has the advantages of sufficient production capacity, convenient storage, and transportation, and performs good emissions in NOx, SOx, and CO2.

At present, “The Interim Guidelines for the Safety of Ships using Methyl/Ethyl Alcohol as Fuel” has been formulated internationally, and relevant regulations and guidelines will be issued soon in China. The technical standard obstacles to ship design, construction and inspection are expected to be resolved quickly.

It is worth reminding that Proman now has a fleet of six methanol dual-fuel vessels. Proman has inked on an agreement with GSI to build two additional 49,900 DWT methanol dual-fuel MR tankers.

There are still some problems to be solved in the use of methanol fuel by ships:

  1. From the perspective of the full life cycle of the fuel, fossil-based methanol cannot meet future carbon emission reduction targets.
  2. Marine methanol fuel supply systems and marine methanol engines currently lack practical experience in ship application. There are not many choices of products available in the market.
  3. It is also necessary to strengthen the construction of marine methanol fuel refueling facilities and improve relevant regulatory requirements.
  4. The impact of methanol price and fuel tank capacity on the economy and ship layout still needs to be further evaluated.

3 Biofuel

There are two biofuels attracting the maritime industry:

Fatty acid methyl ester (FAME): It has certain problems in oxidation stability, corrosivity, low-temperature fluidity, etc.

Hydrogenated vegetable oil (HVO): The physical and chemical properties of HVO are similar to those of marine gas oil (MGO). The fuel is compatible with a great number of existing diesel engines and infrastructure.

Like other energy, Biofuel is facing some challenges:

  1. The price of biodiesel is greatly affected by the supply of biomass raw materials resulted in the higher price of biofuel.
  2. The supply of raw materials is not steady.

Klaveness Combination Carriers (KCC) which is well-known for its CLEANBU fleet, continues exploring biofuels possibilities going forward. KCC believes biofuel will be an increasingly important measure over this decade for the shipping industry to reach its carbon reduction targets.

4 Hydrogen Fuel

Hydrogen is a green, clean, efficient, and widely-sourced secondary energy source. However, its application in ship’s operation is not yet practical.

Hydrogen is a high potential method to reach zero emission for the shipping industry. A lot of studies and researches on relevant marine specifications, technical equipment, and infrastructure to apply hydrogen as a marine fuel. It’s hopeful that the collaboration between Wärtsilä and RINA will work out the solution to use hydrogen as a marine fuel shortly.

Hydrogen will need to be solved these challenges to be used widely:

  1. Develop hydrogen storage technologies with higher energy density, including technologies such as liquid hydrogen, hydrogen storage.
  2. The current terminal hydrogen is expensive, But with the strong growth of the hydrogen energy market, the cost of hydrogen fuel will decrease.

5 Ammonia fuel

Ammonia performs great in terms of the zero-emission target in the maritime industry. Ammonia does not contain carbon, and its energy density is equivalent to that of methanol, twice that of hydrogen. Ammonia is easy to liquefy and safe. It is an ideal energy source.

However, like hydrogen, there is little experience in the application of ammonia as a fuel. The practical usage of ammonia fuel to ships should pay attention to the characteristics of toxicity, corrosivity, and flammability, and special protective measures.

At present, although Ammonia is great in energy transition, the application of ammonia fuel is still in the research stage. To close the gap and treat ammonia as a marine fuel, the maritime industry should establish a complete supply chain, and form sound policies and regulations to realize it.

Recently, Mitsui and GS Energy join the Blue Ammonia Project in response to the target of IMO by 2050.

Source China International LNG Summit and Exhibition

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