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Report finds biofuels most affordable option for shipping

Shipping faces huge challenges in finding affordable zero-emission fuels, against a background of poor financial returns and a global requirement to keep transport costs low. In this environment, biofuels currently present the most affordable option for shipping, though great challenges remain in relation to the scale of production and sustainability of biofuels a new report finds.

Commissioned by the Sustainable Shipping Initiative (SSI), an independent London, UK based charity, the report “Zero Emissions Vessels, what needs to be done?” was geared to the needs and requirements of SSI members, who are mainly involved in deep-sea trades with container ships, bulk carriers and tankers.

The report makes clear that the technology is with us today, but investment is needed both to bring the technology to scale and to encourage a wider take-up. The shipping industry will need multiple solutions, and investment for different technologies – not just biofuels – to reach beyond fuel efficiency to decarbonisation, said Stephanie Draper, Chief Change Officer for Forum for the Future and SSI co-chair.

Launched on May 16, the report was authored by Lloyds Register and UMAS. It also examines electric power and hydrogen fuel cells, and takes note of the upstream carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions which need to be resolved as these fuels will have to be judged on an environmental performance from “well to wake,” and not just on emissions from ships.

As shipping is now in concert with the Paris Agreement, the benefits of other land-based technologies and energy production should help to drive down upstream emissions for ships fuel. As a result of this report, the SSI is engaged in a deep-dive into biofuels in 2018 to assess the viability of biofuels for the world fleet.

Biofuels represent a stepping stone to further emissions reduction. Alternative marine fuels provide a huge opportunity for creating value and finding sustainable solutions. The SSI will continue to look at the whole value chain and this report highlights that the next ten years will see huge changes in the way ships are fuelled, said Tom Holmer, General Manager of the SSI.

About Sustainable Shipping Initiative

The Sustainable Shipping Initiative (SSI) is an independent charity, comprised of ambitious leaders spanning the whole shipping value chain from charterers and ship owners to class societies and technology companies.

It was founded by global sustainability non-profit organisation Forum for the Future in conjunction with WWF, the global conservation NGO, and a number of leading shipping industry companies. The objective is to drive the whole shipping industry value chain towards greater resilience by defining, tracking and accelerating industry progress towards sustainability.

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