Decarbonisation a possibility, says academic

DECARBONISATION in the maritime transport sector can happen in reality if there is improved energy efficiency and a switch to alternative fuels.

University College London (UCL) Energy Institute’s Dr Tristan Smith shared these sentiments during a Shipping Emission talanoa session report released in June.

“Currently most international ships cannot improve energy efficiency further — however, this is not true for the Pacific as there are opportunities for Pacific shipping to improve efficiency for example hull coatings, propellers, cowlings and scheduling,” Dr Smith said.

“There is a fundamental need to use non-fossil fuels — batteries for electric, biofuels and synthetic fuels.”

Dr Smith said most promising for global fleets was to use electricity from solar and wind and possibly nuclear to produce hydrogen which could be used to make fuel example methanol, hydrogen or ammonia which used renewable energy to make electricity which was stored in liquid fuel.

Dr Smith said this would need to happen within the next 10 years.

He added there is a need to promote companies who do take the lead.

“Good news is that Scandinavians working on biofuels and renewables, the French are working on alternative fuels and ASEA Brown Boveri (ABB) on fuel cells and electrification.

“The problem is these companies are not mainstream in shipping and are up against global fuel giants such as Shell, BP and Total to name a few who have large supplies of oil and gas and who are looking to shipping as markets.”

Dr Smith said investment in Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) is a complete dead-end and will cause major impacts.

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