LBM/LSM Can Serve as Low-Cost Marine Fuels: Study
LNG bunkering association SEA/LNG published a study on March 25 on how liquefied biomethane (LBM) and liquefied synthetic methane (LSM) can serve as low-cost and readily available marine fuels while helping to decarbonise the shipping industry.
LBM is derived from four main biomass streams: energy crops, agricultural residues, forestry products and residues and aquatic biomass. There is enough sustainable biomass supply to produce the biomethane necessary for the shipping industry's needs, especially as power and industry sectors reduce their use of methane as part of a move away from fossil fuels, the report stated.
Current renewable energy generation is insufficient to produce enough LSM to power a significant share of the global shipping fleet, it continued. To decarbonise the entire sector using LSM, clean electricity generation would need to rise by 25-30% by 2050.
Both LBM and LSM are likely to be commercially competitive versus other green fuels, the report stated. The production costs for LBM and other renewable fuels such as green hydrogen and green ammonia are broadly comparable. Liquefaction, storage and transport costs for ammonia are lower than for LBM, but these costs for liquid hydrogen are much higher. Transportation costs for LBM are relatively low, thanks to its global availability.
Green hydrogen and green ammonia are also expected to have a higher bunker price cost mark-up than LBM or LSM, as the infrastructure needed for the latter fuels is already there, being used for LNG, but this is not the case for hydrogen or ammonia.
"The shipping industry faces unprecedented challenges if they are to meet the IMO's decarbonisation targets and the even more demanding goals being discussed by the EU," the report stated. "Confusing claims and counter claims are being made for different zero-emissions technologies, all of which have decades of research and development before they are proven for safe marine operations, globally available and commercially viable."
By adopting LNG as a fuel, shipowners are future-proofing their investments against increasingly stringent environmental regulations, as LNG produces considerable less greenhouse gas emissions than the present alternatives, the report stated. And these LNG-fuelled vessels can use non-fossil fuel methane such as LBM and LSM in the future with little or no modification, once they become available on scale.
"If we are to make effective, meaningful progress with emissions reductions, waiting for utopia and the ‘perfect’ solution is not an option," the report concluded. "We must act today and LNG is the only option that moves us forward on all fronts, now." The full report can be read here.