In order to achieve the target of becoming a Multi-Fuel Port by 2025, the Port of Antwerp will give emphasis on three key sectors:
- Including methanol, hydrogen gas and electrical energy in the bunkering market;
- Further expanding LNG bunkering (at the moment some 750 tonnes of LNG is bunkered annually in the port of Antwerp);
- Developing conventional bunkering into a fully fledged port service in its own right, with the introduction of a high-quality licensing system and a digitisation path.
Regarding LNG, due to its specific properties in comparison with fuel oil, much attention has been paid to its use as a fuel by government authorities, classification companies, shipping operators and ports over the last decade. Namely:
- At organisational level the International Association of Ports and Harbours (IAPH) has developed an audit tool that can be used by ports to award permits to bunkering companies in accordance with the very highest industry standards;
- At operational level IAPH has also developed bunker checklists that many ports around the world have incorporated in their port regulations;
- Thanks to detailed risk analyses we have determined where and under what conditions LNG may be bunkered in the port of Antwerp. The result is our LNG Bunkering Map.
In light of these development, the Port has established basic principles that can be applied to other alternative fuels.
In this way LNG functions as a template for other alternative fuels and plays an important role in the transition
the Port of Antwerp explained.
Looking to the future
In the short term the Port has decided to include methanol, hydrogen gas and electrical energy in the bunkering market. It believes that these fuels will find significant acceptance by barge, short-sea and deep-sea shipping, and they will also pass its 'sustainability check.'
As far as other alternatives are concerned, like dimethyl ether, ammonia, ethane, formic acid and LPG, the Ports keeps a close eye on developments.
Challenges for the implementation of new fuels
However, these developments will not come without any challenges, with the Port identifying 5 key ones:
- Regulatory: International and local regulations must not stand in the way of innovation. Nonetheless, clear, practical agreements are needed to permit the introduction of new or alternative fuels in a safe and sustainable way;
- Financial: The first investors in the early stages of the market - mainly on the supply side - do not yet benefit from advantages of scale;
- Supply chain: From the economic point of view, supply and demand have to develop in step with each other in order to justify investments;
- Technology: Before these new fuels can be used on a really wide scale, various technological developments are needed in the fields of bunkering, energy storage and energy conversion in fuel cells or combustion engines;
- Not in my backyard: It would be wrong to assume that terminal operators and other players in the port will welcome bunkering operations in their own backyard without further objection.
You may see more details on how the Port of Antwerp plans to become a Multi-Fuel Port, in the following PDF