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Oil company believes in hydrogen

03 November 2020

LNG and biofuels initially, while hydrogen and fuel cells will take over in the longer term. This is Shell's path to a fossil-free shipping, according to a report the company made with Deloitte.

At the beginning of October, Preem made what many call a historic decision when they withdrew their application to expand the refinery in Lysekil. Preem referred to commercial grounds, but at the same time stated that Preem would invest in renewables and according to Swedish television, the company investigated the possibilities of starting a green hydrogen plant in Lysekil.

In recent times, hydrogen has sailed up as a hot candidate as the marine fuel of the future. However, not everyone believes in it. In October, Lighthouse wrote about DNV GL's latest maritime forecast for 2050 which showed that hydrogen will have a limited significance as a marine fuel. This because of its low energy density  that makes it expensive and difficult to handle and store on board.

But many believe in hydrogen. Around the time that DNV GL's report was published, Shell declared that they intended to invest more resources in research and development around hydrogen and fuel cells. According to the report Decarbonising Shipping: Setting Shell's Course, it is this combo that has the greatest potential to help shipping become fossil-free by 2050. The advantage of hydrogen, Shell believes, is that one can benefit from the technology developed in this area in other transport sectors and industries. However, it is not believed that a completely fossil-free solution will be available commercially before 2030.

“We know there is no single silver bullet to this complex challenge. There will likely be multiple solutions across sub-sectors of shipping”, writes Grahaeme Henderson, Global Head of Shell Shipping & Maritime, inte preface of the report. “Changes in industrial and other transport sectors will also likely influence the outcome for shipping.”

Decarbonising Shipping: Setting Shell's Course is based on another report, All hands on deck, published in July, which gives leading shipping players a view on how to achieve emission-free shipping.

“We have listened to our customers and partners in the sector and we have set ourselves an ambitious course. I hope that by doing so, openly and transparently, others will be encouraged to join us and help create a net-zero emissions future for shipping.”

Until then, shipping must use transitional fuels. Shell notes how LNG can play a critical role in helping the industry to lower its emissions today and develop technology for the zero-emissions fuels of the future, while continuing to address methane slippage.

The report also provides a number of recommendations for shipping, including urging the IMO to sharpen its targets and find a clear course towards a completely emission-free shipping by 2050.

Read Shells reports here

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