During the 2023 GREEN4SEA Athens Forum, Mr. Nikos Xydas, Technical Director of the World LPG Association, highlighted that LPG as a marine fuel is a better choice among the other fuel options from a well-to-wake perspective.
PG has better environmental GHG benefits than other alternative and renewable fuels and LNG while LPG Technology Readiness level for ocean energy is at the highest level. LPG is ready now and a capable solution by 2035. The World LPG Association represents the interests of the market of LPG all around the world involving more than 300 members and representing more than 125 countries around the world.
The maritime industry is under pressure
There is currently a pressure in the industry due to the IMO ambitious targets, the new EEXI, the carbon density indicators and upcoming measures and revisions from IMO to align with its GHG strategy and the CO2 reductions up to 2025, 2030 and 2050.
In particular, the timeline includes the following pressure points:
- 2023: Review of IMO ambitions and possibly strengthening for decarbonization by 2050
- Regulatory milestones set by the IMO forcing shipping transition
- Energy Efficiency Existing Ship Index (EEXI) survey requirements take effect
- Carbon Intensity Indicator (CII), start of data collection and measures
- Revision of IMO initial GHG Strategy, process to include guidelines as part of IGF code
- 2025: EEDI Phase III, 30% Reduction in Carbon Intensity takes effect
- 2025: May 1st: Mediterranean Sea Emission Control Area for SOx and Particulate Matter (Med SECA) MARPOL Annex VI
- 2030: min. 40% CO2 emissions reduction (2008 baseline)
- 2050: min. 70% CO2 emissions reduction (2008 baseline)
However, NGOs urge IMO for deep emission cuts from ships before 2030. The key drivers increasing the decarbonization pressure are:
- Regulatory drivers (CII,EU ETS) and policies incentivising use of alternative fuels
- Expectations of cargo owners and consumers for low and zero-emission in place this decade
- Access to investors and capital depends increasingly on environmental impact
This landscape brings several key trends. Alternative fuels are increasing, fast driving the change. We now see a more diverse fuel mix with a continued strong interest for gaseous fuels; a growth of interest for methanol but health risks remain; an increasing demand for biofuels but their availability is still a challenge. With regards to ammonia and hydrogen, we witness ongoing developments but still there are big issues to be solved. In addition, the onboard Carbon Capture (CCS) is an emerging new add-on alternative for consideration. Now, large vessels leading the way; 63% of the 2022 orders (by gross weight) were for alternative fuel capable units while there were around 30% in previous two years.
When it comes to LPG, the most important factor to consider in comparison with other alternative fuels, is the energy density of LPG. Table below shows that LPG has the best energy density after diesel; it’s just one and a half time the storage volume it requires compared to diesel. You can also see that all the other alternative fuels that we have in our agenda have much more energy density, i.e. the methanol has two and a half, the ammonia has three. Therefore, LPG is really a very attractive fuel in terms of its energy density and the volume that occupies on the ship.
Also, something else that we have been ignoring until now is the value and the benefits from well-to-wake basis. Actually, we need to work on a Well-to-Wake basis and LPG is the best option towards, as graph below demonstrates:
In comparison with other alternative fuels, LPG has the following characteristics:
- LPG has better environmental GHG benefits than other alternative and renewable fuels and LNG
- LPG technology Readiness level for ocean energy is at the highest level
- LPG offers a long-term pathway towards a zero-emissions shipping industry through bio and synthetic sources of LPG and renewable DME
- LPG is future-proof and ready today
- For 2035, LPG DF systems can meet EEXI and EEDI requirements (only minor modifications)
- Combined with advanced technological design, LPG could achieve more than 30% GHG reduction by 2035.
Most importantly, LPG is available everywhere around the globe and today as there are already more than 1,000 storage facilities and terminals and more than 700 small carriers for ship-to-ship bunkering. We already use LPG daily, in one way or another, either in our cigarette lighter or in our barbecue at home. We know LPG is a product which exists everywhere we are very familiar with it as we know how to how to handle it.
Where maritime industry stands with LPG
LPG engine orders are still gaining ground. On the water, there are 53 LPG carriers and also:
- RETROFITS: 15 x 80,000 m3 BW LPG VLGCs
- NEW BUILTS: 38 LPG carriers
- More than 150 engines ordered so far, many already delivered
- LPG fuelled vessels in 3rd place with 2.3% of new builts orders and 2nd in 2022 with 15% (50 vessels) excl. electric batteries
It is worth mentioning that 15 BW LPG retrofitted vessels can save 1 million tons of CO2 emissions!
What is more, LPG is a very attractive alternative fuel for other segments apart from LPG carriers as it offers significant reduction in CO2 emissions, non-toxic, non GHG, not harmful to water; it requires lower CAPEX than LNG and; offers a cleaner pathway to the future towards ammonia and zero carbon among other benefits.
In general the benefits are:
- Virtually no SOx emissions, reduced NOx and combined with advanced technological design could achieve more than 30% GHG reduction.
- Lower CAPEX and OPEX than other alternatives
- More compatible with Ammonia pathways
- Extensive supply/distribution infrastructure
- Easy Bunkering – cost savings
- Renewable LPG production started
- Fossil LPG produced from Oil and Natural Gas resources
- Not carbon free (like many others
Considering Low CAPEX needs and LPG competitive pricing today, its compatibility to Ammonia and potential availability of Green/Blue Ammonia in the future, as well as CCS, LPG as Marine Fuel is a credible alternative with a projected net zero carbon pathway.
Lastly, an additional thing on top comes from the renewables. Thus, LPG or propane – it depends where we are and how we call it – has also its renewable version. A renewable bio which comes with various names i.e. we may hear it as bio propane, eLPG or eLG; there are around eight different pathways to produce renewable LPG or renewable propane.
Recently, we have brought into the market another molecule which is very familiar and very close to LPG which is called DME – demethylated. DME can be transported and can be used like LPG. In the LPG industry, we are working now in marketing blends of LPG and renewable DME which is going to bring down the carbonic index even further than what the renewable LPG / bio LPG can do today.
In conclusion, there are so many benefits and such a bright future for renewable LPG and renewable DME for the LPG market on the whole.
Above article has been edited from Mr. Nikos Xydas’ presentation during the 2023 GREEN4SEA Athens Forum.
Explore more by watching his video presentation here below
The views presented are only those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of SAFETY4SEA and are for information sharing and discussion purposes only.