The Global Centre for Maritime Decarbonisation (GCMD) is leading a consortium of 18 industry partners to launch a drop-in biofuels pilot project with a combined contribution of US$18M in cash and in-kind to establish an assurance framework for ensuring the supply chain integrity of current and future green marine fuels, bringing genuine benefits to end-users and the climate.
n the launch of this pilot project Professor Lynn Loo, CEO of GCMD, said that “by facilitating and creating an optimised drop-in green fuels supply chain, this pilot will help to shape national and international standards of biofuels bunkering and lower the barrier for their wider adoption to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from a lifecycle perspective.”
The vessels in this pilot are all equipped with MAN ES’s two-stroke engines. In response to participating in this pilot, Bjarne Foldager, Senior Vice President and head of Two Stroke Business, said:
At MAN Energy Solutions we believe several solutions are required to decarbonise shipping, however all solutions needs to be verified and their scalability tested. This is best done in partnerships aligning the various actors in projects like this where we can share knowledge and build transition strategies together
GCMD is undertaking a bottom-up approach by convening like-minded partners across the maritime industry to participate in this pilot. Altogether, the ship owners, charterers and operators participating in this pilot project represent approximately 2,300 vessels across the container, tanker and bulker segments, and are responsible for transporting 8.4 million TEUs or 80.6 million DWT globally.
With 12 vessels bunkering at three ports across three continents, the learnings from these route-based pilots will support the green corridors framework that was put forth by the Clydebank Declaration at COP26 in October 2021, of which 24 states are signatories including Singapore, the Netherlands and the US where bunkering ports for this pilot project reside.
Targeting the complex supply chain of green fuels
A first-of-its-kind in extent and complexity, the pilot aims to optimise the entire supply chain of bunker fuels by building on the learnings of past shipboard trials involving biofuels. Designed through the lens of the shipowner, piloting will start with fuel blends involving existing biofuels, such as hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) and fatty acid methyl esters (FAME) blended with either very low sulphur fuel oil (VLSFO), high-sulphur fuel oil (HSFO) or marine gas oil (MGO) in blends up to 30% biofuels (B30).
A variety of biofuels and biofuel blends have already been successfully tested, but this comprehensive pilot can help address remaining uncertainties about how these fuels work in practice by getting extensive enduser operational experiences with products involving FAME and HVO, and hopefully also crude algae oil
commented Unni Einemo, Director of the International Bunker Industry Association (IBIA).
Using BunkerTrace’s digital and synthetic DNA tracing products to track marine fuels from production to vessel propulsion, the pilot will validate the authenticity of sustainable biofuels through molecular verification tests conducted on fuel samples that are collected at numerous identified points along the supply chain.
Hence, the pilot will address traceability of drop-in biofuels from production, distribution, transportation, storage, and bunkering to shipboard application, providing end-to-end supply chain transparency.
Adding to the pilot’s complexity is coordinating the sailing schedules of participating vessels. The aggregation of demand for biofuels at ports will result in cost savings for shipowners and fuel purchases through optimised use of land-side storage facilities and bunkering vessels and facilitate assessments of GHG emissions abatement on a well-to-wake basis of individual vessels and across fleets.
Furthermore, testing these fuel blends across the container, tanker and bulker segments travelling on fixed and tramp routes and bunkering at the ports of Singapore, Rotterdam, and Houston under business-as-usual conditions will demonstrate the compatibility and stability of these biofuels in actual operating environments, thereby strengthening the overall robustness of the assurance framework.
Calling for crude algae oil supply
In an effort to further accelerate biofuels adoption as a near-term measure to reduce GHG emissions, GCMD will be leveraging this project to be the first in trialling and assessing the use of crude algae oil (CAO) as a marine fuel.
CAO is a third-generation biofuel that promises substantially reduced carbon footprint, but unlike HVO and FAME, its utility has not been tested nor its supply chain established.