Which fuels and technologies should ship owners invest in and why?
The short answer is " In 2022, they should invest in LNG-fueled ships".
LNG-fueled ships are considered, for the time being, as the most pragmatic transitional solution for the next 15-20 years up until the moment the maritime industry becomes ready to adopt zero-carbon technologies such as hydrogen, methanol, ammonia, biofuels etc.
LNG is not a zero carbon fuel but it is the first meaningful step on the zero carbon pathway:
Why LNG is a viable transitional solution for the next 15-20 years?
- Available LNG bunkering infrastructure. Development is picking up quickly
- Available experience by Class Societies, Makers and crew on LNG fuel handling systems, dual fuel engines and dual fuel boilers arising from LNG carriers.
- About 99% less SOx emissions.
- EEDI up to 40% lower compared to Phase 0.
Why the maritime industry is not yet ready for zero carbon fuels?
- Lack of commercial availability and bunkering infrastructure of zero carbon fuels, at a large scale.
- The production of several zero carbon fuels is not environmentally friendly.
- The R&D on propulsion and fuel handling systems for zero carbon fuels are still in its infancy. There are serious safety and reliability concerns.
In theory everything is possible but in practical terms reliability is a top priority for marine equipment on ships that operate thousands of miles away from shore. New technologies will have to be thoroughly studied before their implementation onboard.
Check out the below interesting graph by Clarkson’s.