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20 Jun 2019, 13:22
Julian Wettengel

Maritime energy transition needs LNG, says German shipping industry

Clean Energy Wire

A maritime energy transition in line with the Paris Climate Agreement is only possible with the help of liquefied natural gas (LNG), says the Maritime LNG Platform in a press release. LNG serves as a necessary bridging technology to a decarbonised shipping sector, as alternative clean drives will not be available in the medium run, says the platform. Over time, the fossil LNG can be substituted by renewable power based synthetic LNG. “LNG or synthetic methane holds the potential to reach all climate and clean air targets with already well-developed technologies,” said Friedrich Wirz, head of the marine engineering working group at the Hamburg University of Technology.

Maritime transport mainly runs on CO₂-intensive heavy oil, making it a big source of global greenhouse gas emissions. If treated as a country, the global marine transport sector would have ranked 6th in terms of CO2 emissions in 2015, just below Germany, according to the ICCT. Finding solutions to bring down maritime emissions is essential to reach climate goals. Researchers say the best bet for the long-term decarbonisation of freight shipping is to combine electric propulsion with synthetic fuels. A study by the University of Manchester examined a range of alternative fuels already under consideration for shipping. It found that most are compatible with modified internal combustion engines when blended, particularly for larger vessels. Currently, the contenders include ammonia, liquefied natural gas (LNG), methanol and ethanol, liquid hydrogen, biodiesel, straight vegetable oil and bio-LNG. However, experts say that switching to liquefied natural gas is not a sustainable option in terms of lowering CO₂ emissions and could lead to a large number of stranded assets.

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