Foreword: We need them all
We will reach long-term emissions reduction targets but all alternative fuels are needed.
Effects of climate change are clearly visible around us. Instead of clear white snow we have darkness and rainfall. Wintertime average temperatures have been several degrees above normal, winds have been unusually strong and my mother in law’s garden in the west coast of Finland is producing fresh sage in February. It should not be possible.
The good news is that shipping is by far the most environmental friendly transportation mode. Our company as well as the whole shipping industry is committed to reducing emissions. In 2019 we have proved the low emissions of our LNG-fuelled newbuildings, as we have performed a series of real life emission measurements onboard m/s Haaga. Lately it has been argued that LNG would not be an environmental friendly fuel, because an even more damaging greenhouse gas, methane, would be released from the engines. Our measurements show that the modern technology we use is fit for purpose and the eventual methane slip is extremely small. It is not entirely negligible but we are happy to report much lower, sustainable levels, than what is argued in some environmental reports.
This brings me to the most important point. The IMO CO2-emissions reduction target for the entire shipping industry, 50% by 2050, is possible only by using a wide range of alternative fuels. We simply do not have one optimal solution for the problem and all alternatives have their pros and cons. The raw material base for biodiesel is limited and there is not enough availability for shipping. Hydrogen and ammonia are today produced mainly from fossil fuels, supply logistics is largely missing and both are difficult to store onboard due low energy content in relation to the volume. Electricity and batteries are suitable for very short voyages, but are not the solution for deep sea trades. We will need several alternatives including biodiesel, LNG, biogas and eventually synthetic gas produced from hydrogen and CO2 by using renewable electricity in the future.
In order to facilitate the essential research for low emission solutions for the industry, the International Chamber of Shipping together with all other major shipping industry related organisations has proposed to establish a fuel levy system enabling collection of billions of dollars to a research fund. We hope this initiative will prove successful. At the same time, we are concerned about development within the EU, where leading politicians are talking more and more about establishing a regional emissions trading scheme for shipping. We need a global solution, not a local one that would only speed-up so called carbon leakage, resulting from European industries losing their competitiveness and relocation of production to areas of less regulation and lower costs.
Our company’s main environmental target for 2020 is to perform large scale trials using biodiesel and biogas in our ships. We are in discussions with various stakeholders regarding how these trials could be performed in the best possible way, delivering best environmental value and how the costs and benefits should be shared. We shall report further as we progress with our plans.