Shifting to greener fuels sounds easier than it is. The supply chains for common maritime fuels such as HSFO and marine gasoil are highly developed and complex. But for new fuels such as cooking oil, hydrogen, and ammonia, there aren’t any supply chains.
Even if we had excellent marine engines using these fuels, there would be no place to ‘gas up’. In many ways, it’s like the problem auto drivers have with electric cars; you need to know where you can fill up. The highly developed automotive fuel supply chain is one reason why electric cars are taking so long to catch on with the buying public.
Another issue, which plagues the electricity supply chain as well as the marine fuel one, is the ‘greenness’ of fuels. Some fuels burn green, producing less emissions, when they are propelling vehicles; but their means of production is not green at all.
For instance, hydrogen production takes a lot of electricity when it’s made by the usual method, by electrolyzing water. But how green is the energy source for the electricity? Did it come from a coal-fired plant, or from a solar or wind generation facility?
For maritime, we call this well-to-wake analysis of the greenness of fuels and their supply chains. Can we do effective well-to-wake analysis of marine fuel supply chains?
The article by Paul Bartlett below refers to a new report from Lloyd’s Register addressing this problem. The report is well worth getting for maritime pros. It’s going to be crucial to have a full understanding of the overall emissions benefits of all the possible marine fuels, if we are to build new greener ships and develop green trade lanes. A lot of work and money will be needed to set up effective maritime fuel supply chains and supplies.
Another interesting publication on this subject is a Bureau Veritas white paper on alternative fuels. I learned a lot by reading it.
Paul Bartlett | Jan 24, 2023LR study calls for ‘end-to-end assurance of new fuel supply chain’