A truck with the sea port in the background

Maritime industries look up to aviation for inspiration on zero emission, sustainable fuels

Just like the automotive and aviation industries, the shipping business is also gearing towards green solutions. As significant contributors to the world’s mobility operations, these industries are crossing over ideas to reach sound solutions. In the case of the maritime industry, it is not the first time shipping has been urged to take a leaf out of the aviation playbook to tackle its carbon footprint. Because, like aviation, the maritime industry should ensure that all the emissions from its entire operation cycles are accounted for to understand the real climate impact.

According to a report by the Environmental Defense Fund and the influential University Maritime Advisory Services (UMAS), shipping will fail to tackle its global greenhouse gas emissions issues unless it puts in place rules reflecting the climate impact of shipping fuels. For the first time, this report studies whether the processes for delivering standards for sustainable marine fuels can be sped up using lessons learned from aviation. After all, it’s a sector facing similar challenges in transitioning to sustainable alternative fuels.

According to Splash247.com, the report considers how sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) or eligible fuel elements of the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) market-based climate program, the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (Corsia), could be adopted in the context of shipping. The analysis shows that ICAO’s SAF framework offers a solid blueprint for the shipping sector. The report also identifies areas where the International Maritime Organization (IMO) should be more ambitious than ICAO to ensure that shipping transitions away from fossil fuels.

Without stringent accounting rules, the climate benefit of alternative fuels can be undermined entirely, the report warns. So, shipping needs to implement a full lifecycle perspective, accounting for all greenhouse gas emissions, including methane, and ensure accurate calculations of both the direct and indirect impacts of emissions associated with the whole supply chain of the fuel. The study calls for the application of careful rules to ensure that biofuels’ use has a real climate benefit. Also, the report clearly stated that shipping must ensure that biofuels are not automatically granted a zero-emission status.

Splash247.com also previously reported how a front-runner for the next generation of green fuel for the aviation industry could be used for ships. Oslo-headquartered Norsk e-Fuel is a newly established industry consortium building Europe’s first commercial plant for hydrogen-based renewable aviation fuel.

The group comprises German power-to-liquid specialist Sunfire and Zurich-based carbon capture expert Climeworks, with the engineering, procurement, and construction company Paul Wurth along with green investor Valinor, which owns Norway’s most significant private wind power developer Norsk Vind.

Norsk e-Fuel will use Sunfire and Climeworks’ technologies to build plants that will convert into syngas renewable electricity, water, and carbon dioxide (CO2) captured from ambient air and unavoidable CO2 sources. This syngas will be used for the production of renewable fuels through further processing and refining.

The facility is set to open at the Heroya Industry Park in Porsgrunn by 2023, with an initial capacity to produce 10 million liters of renewable fuel per year. Further, there are plans to expand it to 100 million liters annually by 2026.

Unilever commits to net-zero emissions for shipping

Meanwhile, multinational consumer goods company Unilever has announced a new series of sustainability measures and commitments, which include reaching net zero emissions from all its products by 2039. This move would set the bar high among notable brands worldwide, with enormous effects for the shipping community.

Part of its 2039 goal to zero out all emissions from operations, its suppliers, including shipping, each of the company’s 70,000 products will indicate on their labels the amount of greenhouse gas emitted for manufacturing and transportation. But to facilitate this ambitious proposal, Unilever brands will collectively pledge $1.1 billion into a new dedicated Climate & Nature Fund.

Likewise, Getting to Zero Coalition, an alliance of over a hundred companies within the maritime, energy, infrastructure, and finance sectors, is committed to getting commercially viable deep-sea zero-emission vessels powered by zero-emission fuels into operation by 2030.

According to a case study report by the Sustainable Shipping Initiative (SSI) on Unilever, the challenge is to measure, optimize and work with carriers in the industry, as the standards of measurement and emission reduction program are inconsistent across the industry. As a multi-stakeholder initiative, it brings together like-minded and leading organizations with shared goals and equal determination in improving the sustainability of the shipping industry. SSI members range from charterers, shippers, ship owners, and shipyards to port operators, banks, ship finance, and insurance providers, classification societies, and technology companies. (Splash247.com)