This article takes issue with the Emissions Trading System (ETS) put in place by the EU. Pricing the emissions of various fuels into the equation will induce fuel users to use cleaner fuels in some cases. The argument goes that such process, based on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the fuel, will be compromised by the lack of availability of cleaner fuels until sufficient supplies are readily available. And the process considers only greenhouse gases and not the lifecycle costs of certain fuels.
Perhaps the pricing scheme can be adjusted. Certainly there will be more investment in cleaner fuel capabilities. But the issues brought up are real. Just how significant they are is yet to be seen.
One real issue, however, is the fact that maritime operators can avoid fueling at EU ports and places where the ETS price is added. They can choose routes where dirty fuels can be burned, and minimize their time sailing where ETS is enforced. One way to reduce this is to create green corridors, where use of clean fuel is mandatory. An example is the Singapore to Rotterdam corridor backed by those governments.
Norway is a leader in the development of clean transport, especially maritime. They have been experimenting with autonomous ships for several years.
Here are two new ships, which will not operate autonomously at the start, but will sail with a crew of 4. However, the goal is to test the systems for two years, and become autonomous after that.
They will transport products for a grocery along the coast of Norway. There is a plan for an all-electric corridor, including these ships and a fleet of electric trucks for the start and end parts of the trip.
UCL Energy Institute is a very influential research group. The UCL part is University College London. Their investigation of LNG-fueled vessels indicates that these ships are not on the best path to reduce carbon emissions. Thus, many of them being built now will need to be scrapped early.
The study could be quite influential. Shipowners have recently been investing in LNG-powered ships to produce reduced emissions now, especially since methane emissions are not being measured as they should. LNG ships emit methane, a worse greenhouse gas than CO2, through slip from the engine and the fuel handling operations. Most ships have not put in place advanced methane recovery systems.
The ships involved are dual-fuel ships that burn both oil and LNG, as well as single-fuel LNG powered ships.
The scientific evidence seems to indicate that LNG power may actually be worse than Low Sulphur Heavy Fuel Oil (LSHFO) when all the lifecycle emissions are analyzed. So the ultimate economic effect of the now LNG builds may turn out to be quite a waste of money.
The full report from the UCL Institute can be read here.