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CIMAC releases position paper on zero-carbon energy sources for shipping

18 February 2020

As greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions continue to rise, and international shipping remains a considerable contributor, CIMAC established a GHG Strategy Group by the end of 2018 to work on the maritime energy transition and related topics. Last week, CIMAC announced three white papers by the GHG Strategy Group that contribute to the ongoing discussion about reducing the climate impact of the large engine industry and the maritime sector:

Although not included in the Paris Agreement, the international shipping sector has been under pressure to cut down GHG emissions, along with other sectors. In April 2018, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) adopted an initial strategy on the reduction of GHG emissions from ships [3949], with a target to reduce the total annual GHG emissions by at least 50% by 2050 compared to 2008. This represents a remarkably ambitious and challenging goal, because there is no universally viable replacement for diesel fuel in shipping, while—considering the long life cycle of ships—the timeline is very demanding. Additionally, if the global economic growth was to continue, the global fleet of ships would have to increase further. If shipping volumes increase by 20% by 2050—as predicted by some analyses—meeting the 50% GHG reduction target would require reducing ship emissions by as much as 70%.

The CIMAC Position Paper outlines the need for zero carbon energy sources in shipping, future fuel options and the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to create an enabling policy environment. CIMAC regards the deployment of “net zero” or “zero” carbon fuels as necessary to achieve the needed GHG emission reductions in deep-sea shipping. The key points of the CIMAC position, as outlined in the paper, are:

(Net) Zero carbon fuels represent the most promising energy carrier option for the future of shipping. Thus, the ICE is likely to remain the major prime mover in future maritime propulsion systems for deep-sea shipping, complemented by electrification and hybridization of the machinery, and potentially fuel cells.

Hydrogen with a (net) zero carbon footprint is the starting product for the main future fuels in shipping.

Apart from phasing-in (net) zero carbon fuels, the increase of operational and technical efficiencies continues to be a main driver to reduce GHG emissions.

The contribution of sustainably produced biofuels (gas or liquid) as a future zero carbon energy source for deep-sea shipping can play a role in particular for the transition period, as long as volume constraints are solved without compromising the sustainability.

To enable a faster uptake of (net) zero carbon fuels and reduction of GHG emissions, the production of hydrogen with steam methane reforming combined with CCS or pyrolysis as an intermediate step could pose as an alternative until sufficient renewable energy (and electricity) is available.

The IMO must adopt binding measures until 2023 to phase-in net zero and zero carbon fuels and consider a well-to-wake approach. Otherwise, no investment in the production of these fuels can be stimulated to have respective amounts ready at our disposal for the 2030 decade.

Source: CIMAC