The Maritime Technologies Forum (MTF) has released a comprehensive assessment to compare the feasibility and readiness of alternative marine fuels.
he assessment applied MTF’s Framework for Assessing Decarbonization Technologies and Alternative Energy Carriers to fossil MGO, fossil LNG, bio-methanol and green ammonia.
The framework covers eight categories of evaluation, including:
- Sustainability and environmental
- Safety, security
- Economic feasibility
- Technology status and engineering.
In addition to assessing each fuel based on the relevant criteria, the evaluation also takes into consideration the level of availability of data to support the assessment.
The report found that when bio-methanol and green ammonia are compared to fossil MGO and LNG they perform better in the sustainability and environmental category but score lower in other key categories, primarily due to the lack of a comparable fuel value chain.
As regulations and research for bio-methanol and green ammonia expand, it is expected they will become increasingly competitive fuel solutions
The assessment also found that because bio-methanol and green ammonia lack sufficient data, more training and pilot projects will be needed to better understand the economic feasibility of both fuel solutions and to gain practical experience to build a scalable and global workforce.
Commenting on the report, Knut Arild Hareide, Director General of Shipping and Navigation at the Norwegian Maritime Authority said:
The anticipated and much-needed scaling of handling more hazardous fuels such as liquefied methane, methanol, ammonia but also hydrogen, in liquid or gaseous state, requires competence building and certified training to ensure the safe decarbonisation of shipping.
More specifically, four fuels were selected for assessment, fossil marine gas oil (MGO), fossil LNG, biomethanol and green ammonia, and three main takeaways emerged which include critical action items and high priority suggestions for the industry:
#1 Sustainability and Environmental Criteria: Bio-methanol and green ammonia perform better with regards to GHG emissions and ecological impact during production when compared to fossil MGO and fossil LNG. In addition, bio-methanol performs better among the four fuels in terms of ecological impact as it pertains to storage and distribution. In terms of resilience to disruption, MGO has established value chains, but in contrast, ammonia does not meet this criterion today due to lack of an established value chain.
#2 Economic Feasibility Criteria: The study found that there is insufficient data on production and availability of green ammonia and bio-methanol, and in both cases, the corresponding criteria are not met. While regulations can incentivize the uptake of alternative fuels, currently biomethanol and green ammonia fuels must overcome a number of challenges to achieve economic feasibility. This suggests the need for prioritizing more research and pilot projects to gain practical experience and scale.
#3 People Criteria: The introduction of alternative fuels leads to a paradigm shift in shipboard operations compared to the established operations involving fossil fuels, including the baseline fuel considered in this report, fossil MGO. This suggests the need for further development of skills and competencies and the establishment of training modules with corresponding certification to build a scalable, global workforce capable of safe handling of the more hazardous fuels. The latter exists for LNG and methanol but needs further development. For ammonia there is a lack of training in place due to insufficient experience and data.