Lloyd’s Register (LR) and University Maritime Advisory Services (UMAS) have released “Zero-Emission Vessels Transition Pathways,” a study LR said aims to show what is needed to enable the transition, both at the ship and supply infrastructure level, to deliver zero-emission vessels (ZEVs) that are crucial to achieve the IMO’s Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Strategy 2050 ambition.
According to LR, the new study seeks to address key questions about ZEVs such as: what needs to happen between now and in the next three decades for ship deployment? And what needs to happen within this period to develop the supply infrastructure?
The study looks at the key milestones, barriers and enablers over the specified time frame, and considers cost implications, operating profile and how policy measures such as carbon pricing could influence the outcomes.
All pathways explored by the study will achieve the IMO’s ambition of at least 50% reduction in GHG emissions by 2050 and go beyond to show that zero-carbon is possible, LR stated.
The most significant decade is said to be from 2020 to 2030, stressing the urgency for early action. This is partially because there is still uncertainty when choosing one fuel, one technology and one route and therefore this decade will need to see full-scale pilots and prototypes, the development of policy, standards and rules, and will be characterized by first adopters driven by consumer pressure, LR stated.
Solutions may include batteries in short-sea markets, or if used as hybrids, and shore power supply will play an important role in reducing the dependency on fossil fuels. Easy to store zero or low-carbon fuels (for example sustainable biofuel and methanol) may also be an attractive solution as existing infrastructure and machinery can be used to ease the transition.
From 2030 on, the evolution of shipping’s fuel mix is closely linked to the evolution of the wider energy system, according to LR, so a clear signal needs to be given to the potential fuel producers. “We expect to see a consolidation of what the dominant technologies for use on board will be and the interactions between end-fuel price, machinery costs and revenue loss will be better understood. We will start to see ships being designed to store less energy on board and changes to their operating profile to bunker more frequently,” the class society said in a prepared statement.
While admitting that the likelihood of any pathway is difficult to assess at this point, LR stated: “We may experience more than one switch. For example, a growing share of biofuels in the 2020s with on-going efforts to develop fuels produced from renewable electricity, referred to as electro-fuels, resulting in a major shift to electro-fuels in the 2040s and 2050s. We expect that by 2050, and beyond consolidation of the market, to see an end fuel mix dominated by one family of fuels.”
Previous LR and UMAS studies have shown that to achieve at least a 50% reduction in CO2 by 2050 and to be on course for a CO2 pathway consistent with the Paris Agreement, ZEVs need to be entering the fleet around 2030. What’s more, a significant portion of new-builds will have to be zero emission to compensate for the non-zero emissions of the existing fleet.
So, by investigating all key energy sources that would allow zero-carbon fuels to enter the shipping fuel market: renewable electricity, bio-energy and fossil fuels with carbon capture and storage, LR said its findings support those who are planning to finance, design or build a ship in the 2020s and who will need to consider how their ships can switch to non-fossil fuel later in its operational life. And for those not directly associated with ship building or operating, the shipping industry must establish collaborative joint ventures involving the shipping industry partners but also fuel technology companies, equipment manufacturers and energy developers from other industry sectors to develop, scale and commercialize the uptake of ZEVs.