German Uniper Tests Green Methanol for Shipping: Update
(Adds comment from Uniper on green methanol)
German utility Uniper is working on developing a market for green methanol for shipping, it said March 9. It described it as "a logical step in the implementation of our hydrogen strategy within the wider framework of our decarbonisation efforts."
With partners Liberty Pier Maritime Projects and the engineering firm Ship Design & Consult (SDC) it will work on the infrastructure and logistics framework for the carbon-neutral fuel.
As a liquid at ambient temperatures, green methanol is easier to transport and store than green hydrogen and is also biodegradable. It is produced by reacting green hydrogen with CO2 from the atmosphere, either via a biological feedstock or direct air capture. In January, Uniper and Novatek agreed to co-operate in developing a hydrogen supply chain using both blue and green hydrogen.
Global CO2 emissions from shipping amounted to about 932mn metric tons (mt) in 2015. The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has set a reduction target of 70% by 2050 compared to 2008 while energy companies are also pursuing sustainable marine fuels of their own accord.
Uniper said: "On this basis, green methanol is seen as a sensible solution for decarbonisation, both for European coastal shipping and international deep sea shipping. It can also be used for specialist applications, such as cruise ships and inland navigation."
A medium-term goal is to build ships that can burn green methanol in their engines. The project will initially focus on European coastal shipping using ships with a load capacity of 5,300 mt and 8,300 mt and container feeders.
Uniper is an LNG trader and supplier, mainly in the Asia-Pacific, and with its majority owner Finnish utility Fortum, it will have access to more bunkering opportunities with LNG. It has two LNG carriers (pictured).
Green methanol can decarbonise aviation: Uniper
"Fossil" methanol is a well-traded commodity mostly used in the chemical industry but it can be replaced in all applications by green methanol; and with further conversion technology it can be used as the basis for sustainable aviation fuel, Uniper told NGW March 11.
"Furthermore, green methanol is a carbon-neutral fuel which can be applied in the maritime industry and in road transportation, if certain technical infrastructure is available," it said: "The marine industry has particularly high potential, as it will be a hard to decarbonise a market that has few alternatives."
Uniper concedes that "green alternatives" will not immediately be price competitive with the existing ranges of fuels, at least until there are further market incentives. But it says "it is in discussions with interested customers today, which confirm our impression that the industry is looking for solutions now." The main drivers of the cost are feedstock supply for methanol production and investment for conversion technology. It said it was too soon to say what the price of carbon would need to be to make green methanol commercial but the carbon market has enjoyed a bull run lately, with prices above a record €40/metric ton.