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There will not be enough supply of green fuel

11 September 2023

In order to reach the climate goals, shipping needs access to between 30 and 40 percent of all carbon neutral fuel that is estimated to be produced in the world in 2030. That is, of course, unreasonable. In its latest Maritime Forecast to 2050, DNV therefore urges industry stakeholders to also look at other options to reduce emissions.

According to its latest future forecast on shipping's energy transition, DNV estimates that alternative fuels corresponding to between 44 and 62 million tonnes of oil equivalent (Mtoe) will be produced in the world in 2030. Shipping is estimated to need 17 Mtoe, which at worst is close to half of all production. But competition from aviation, road transport and other industries naturally makes it impossible for shipping to seize so much. Therefore, shipping must make sure to reduce energy consumption as much as possible. It is, as DNV's CEO Knut Ørbeck Nilssen writes in the foreword, a "no-brainer".

“Operational energy-efficiency measures like speed reduction, route optimization, and hull and propeller cleaning should be implemented wherever possible.”

Ørbeck Nilssen also mentions smart and digital systems, air lubrication systems and wind-assisted propulsion. The latter has been installed on 28 large ships and has provided fuel savings of between 5-9%. The potential for retrofitting existing vessels is expected to be even higher – up to 25%, DNV believes.

At the same time, of course, the production of fossil-free fuels needs to increase at a colossal rate if any climate goals are to be achieved. And for that a demand is needed. Therefore, the world's governments must ensure that those who are in the forefront are benefited - today only 0.1 percent of the merchant fleet runs on an alternative carbon neutral fuel.

But there is hope. The number of ships that have the option of running on alternative fuels is increasing. Today, 6.5 percent of the tonnage can do so, compared to 5.5 percent last year. More than half of all ships in the world's order books will also run on alternative fuels. Of these, approximately 80 percent are LNG vessels and nearly 20 percent methanol vessels. Battery hybrids make up only a few percent.

In addition to the lack of access to fossil-free fuels, DNV identifies several other obstacles to shipping's transformation. Some of the biggest are lack of infrastructure, new security risks, lack of skills, immature technology and high costs.

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