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Is it possible to sail around the world on biofuels alone?

28 February 2018

The European Commission is considering to launch a Horizon 2020 inducement prize for an existing ocean-going vessel sailing a round-the-world trip (or an equivalent distance) on 100% sustainable, advanced biofuel. This month, Lighthouse participated in a workshop about the inducement prize.

- EU has used inducement prizes earlier with good results and I hope we can have a similar effect here, that this will make things happen. But there must be added value for the competitors to enter this. Even if there is a prize, much will be required of the winner, maybe the government can assist with support and incentives, says Lighthouse director Åsa Burman.

Research shows that a ship sailing around the world on 100% advanced biofuels is still a challenge, the European Commission writes in the draft for the prize. There have been pilot projects, but most pilot projects are less ambitious than sailing around the world, and crossing the ocean on 100% advanced biofuels on the main engine have not been tested. This also will require sailing larger distances continuously on biofuels and bunkering at different locations around the world. It will also be a challenge to increase the use of the more advanced biofuels (based on agricultural and forest residues) that are still under developments.

- The price and availability of advanced biofuels is the absolute biggest challenge. Then the engine manufacturers have to accept the fuel and last but not least, the safety issues has to be into account, Åsa Burman says.

The Horizon 2020 inducement prize will be awarded to the winning project with the winning project being the project that demonstrably fulfils all selection criteria and demonstrably scores best with regards to the award criteria. The prize money is a fixed amount in the range between 2 and 5 million euro to be determined in the course of the project.

- Sweden is not big in trans-ocean shipping. At the meeting we expressed the wish to open up the competition for more shipping companies and types of vessels and also för the possibility to make use of other fuels such as biomethanol and bio-LNG (LBG), Åsa Burman says.

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