All pathways to truly sustainable fuels for the shipping sectors require green hydrogen (produced from renewables), with some of them requiring carbon dioxide from sustainable sources like direct air capture (DAC), according to a report released by the SASHA Coalition, facilitated by Opportunity Green.
n particular, it reveals that there is a lack of policy supporting the production of green hydrogen, which is slowing down demand and discouraging investment, creating a “Green Hydrogen Gap”.
Why green hydrogen?
Green hydrogen is essential for all fuels that will prove truly sustainable for the aviation and shipping sectors in the long run. Currently both aviation and shipping use primarily oil, although there is also an increasing use of gas (LNG) in shipping. Both sectors will have to move away from fossil fuels if the temperature goals of the Paris Agreement are to be met, and both sectors have their own voluntary, national, regional and international decarbonisation goals.
The report is being launched to coincide with London International Shipping Week, where future fuel mix is a hot topic of debate under this year’s theme of decarbonisation. It outlines how governments should prioritise the use of hydrogen and DAC in the aviation and shipping sectors because they lack decent alternatives, and also highlights the need for policy to ensure that these solutions can be rolled out at scale.
As explained, while first-mover ambitious companies can step forward voluntarily to send clear, unambiguous and urgent demand signals to green hydrogen producers, their actions will always be in isolation without the backing of policymakers.
- The UK’s 2019 Clean Maritime Plan states that the vast majority of emission reductions will be achieved through a switch to low or zero-emission fuels, with “two low carbon hydrogen-derived fuels (ammonia and methanol), meeting the vast majority of energy demand by 2050″.
- The EU has also recently reached a provisional agreement on its FuelEU Maritime regulation. This includes measures to support the uptake of renewable fuels of non-biological origin (RFNBO) such as a 2% renewable fuels usage target by 2034 if RFNBOs amount to less than 1% in the fuel mix in 2031.
- ReFuel EU Aviation includes a headline target of 6% Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) in 2030, but only 1.2% of that is synthetic fuels (including green hydrogen-derived).
- The UK government has committed to introducing a SAF mandate from 2025 onwards, which would see at least 10% of jet fuel to be made from sustainable feedstocks by 2030, although it does not currently contain any targets for synthetic fuels.
Kerosene and Heavy Fuel Oil (HFO) currently meet the bulk of fuel demand for the marine and aviation industries: HFO accounts for more than 80% of the total fuel consumption in international shipping and the remaining 20% is made up of marine gas oil (MGO), marine diesel oil (MDO), intermediate fuel oil (IFO), and marine fuel oil (MFO).
The Skies and Seas Hydrogen-fuels Accelerator (SASHA) Coalition is facilitated by Opportunity Green. The initiative aims to clear and strong messaging around the vital role of green hydrogen and DAC in the decarbonisation of the aviation and shipping sectors, and facilitate discussions between EU- and UK-based policymakers and key industry leaders.
The latest environmental policies from both the EU and the UK focus more on supporting biofuels and/or the use of gas (liquefied natural gas) in aviation and shipping respectively, rather than ensuring that green hydrogen – required for full decarbonisation – is prioritised for aviation and shipping.
There is a worrying delay in green hydrogen production, which means that if aviation and shipping don’t make their case clearly and loudly now, they won’t have access to fuels that will truly lead to sustainable decarbonisation.
..said Aoife O’Leary, CEO of Opportunity Green and Director of the SASHA Coalition.
Kerosene and Heavy Fuel Oil currently meet the bulk of fuel demand for the marine and aviation industries, and it’s estimated that the total consumption of marine fuels account for around 5% of global oil demand.
It’s unlikely that there will be a ‘one solution fits all’ fuel for these sectors, but one thing this research tells us is that green hydrogen will play a critical role in their decarbonisation as a feedstock for the majority of sustainable fuel pathways.
..said Sally Prickett, Director of Hydrogen, CCUS and New Fuels in Arup’s Advisory team.
Policy signals are supporting the uptake of hydrogen-derived fuels at both a UK and EU level, however, these are not on the scale that’s needed to meet Paris targets and are just one component that will drive the adoption of hydrogen-derived fuels. Policymakers must recognise that green hydrogen will continue to be in limited supply in the coming decades and should therefore be targeted towards sectors – such as shipping and aviation – that have no more efficient routes to decarbonisation.
Both shipping and aviation have come under increasing scrutiny for their climate impact, resulting in additional regulation at international, regional and national levels. And regulation will only get stricter over time as the climate crisis worsens.
…Nuala Doyle, Policy Officer at the SASHA Coalition, concludes.
According to the report, it is clear that green hydrogen production is lagging behind where it needs to be if the temperature goals of the Paris Agreement are to be met. There will also be significant demand from other industries for the fuels and feedstocks needed for shipping and aviation, with governments already starting to prioritise hydrogen for other sectors.