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Hydrogen and biofuels key components of shipping’s future fuel mix – MSC

Switzerland-headed MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company S.A., a global leader in transportation and logistics, has said it is further exploring the viability of hydrogen and fuels derived from it as a possible fuel source for the future for container shipping and is increasingly pioneering the use of biofuels within its existing fleet.
“There’s no one single solution to decarbonise shipping," said Bud Darr, EVP Maritime Policy & Government Affairs at MSC Group.

Bud Darr, Executive Vice President Maritime Policy & Government Affairs at MSC Group giving a keynote address at the inaugural Maritime Transport Efficiency Conference in Geneva, Switzerland on October 5, 2020 (photo courtesy MSC).

Speaking on October 5, 2020,  at the inaugural Maritime Transport Efficiency Conference in Geneva, Switzerland, where MSC is headquartered, MSC Group’s Bud Darr outlined some preferred options in a keynote speech on decarbonisation and during a panel discussion on fuels for the future. MSC employs more than 1 200 people in Switzerland, where the company has been based since 1978.

There’s no one single solution to decarbonise shipping; we need a range of alternative fuels at scale and we need them urgently. The future of shipping and decarbonisation will rely on strong partnerships from both the perspective of technology collaboration and procurement, Bud Darr said.

In support of the UN International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) policy goals to decarbonize shipping, MSC is actively exploring and trialing a range of alternative fuels and technologies and is already actively bunkering biofuels at scale.

In of favour biofuels and hydrogen

Fossil-sourced liquefied natural gas (LNG) remains a “transitional” option, while carbon capture and storage (CCS) if perfected for marine use, could be useful, Bud told the conference, which gathered together a variety of shipping companies, fuel providers, academics, policymakers and representatives of the UN and Geneva government.

Industry partnerships could help accelerate the development of clean hydrogen for the benefit of the entire container shipping industry. Despite some significant challenges to overcome mainly related to density, volume, and safe handling, MSC is in favour of further R&D efforts to produce it in greenhouse gas (GHG) neutral way and to develop it at scale, along with other fuels that may derive from it.

MSC is also pioneering the large-scale usage of biofuel blends for container ships and is already bunkering responsibly sourced, up to 30 percent biofuel blends on a routine basis in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

Furthermore, the world’s largest class of container ships, MSC’s Gülsün Class, was fitted at delivery in 2019-20 with the option to convert to liquefied natural gas (LNG) in the future as a potential bridging fuel as part of the industry’s transition towards a zero-carbon future.

Support R&D fund proposal

MSC contributes actively to the work of industry groups and associations and supports their proposal to the IMO to create a new R&D fund to support GHG reduction in the maritime sector.

MSC believes there must be a massive injection of energy and capital into R&D efforts to bring alternative fuels and alternative propulsion technologies to the marketplace for us to deploy and decarbonise in the longer term. MSC is therefore engaging with potential vendors to investigate new solutions that would help to minimise and one day, to eventually eradicate CO2 and other GHG emissions from shipping fleets.

MSC recently introduced its latest sustainability report, which provides a thorough overview of the company’s approach to sustainability highlighting some key achievements from all the MSC Group of companies.

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