‘No single solution’ to meet 2050 target

Bureau Veritas Conference at Hotel Napoleon, Paris. Credit: IHS Markit

The make-up of the global shipping fleet will need to include around 30-40% carbon neutral vessels in order to meet the 2050 emission reductions imposed by the International Maritime Organization (IMO). That was the prediction made by Mattieu de Tugny, executive vice president in the marine & offshore division, Bureau Veritas at a special event in Paris on 16 January. In order to meet IMO targets, the evolution of the global fleet would need to be made in combination with other measures, such as slow steaming, de Tugny added.

The conference, hosted by class society Bureau Veritas at a Hotel on the Champs Élysées, showcased the classification societies’ future predictions, as well as discussing the serious challenges facing the shipping industry, with carbon emission reduction foremost among them.

There is no single fuel solution that has been identified yet to meet the IMO 2050 regulation of an annual reduction of 50% of greenhouse gas levels, compared to 2008. Even LNG, the main, safest and most developed contender to be the ‘green’ alternative to heavy fuel oil, is only a stop-gap fuel, because emissions produced will be above the IMO 2030 emission requirement (which expects a 40% reduction in emissions, compared to LNG which only provides a 20% reduction in emissions).

Alternative fuel approaches were explored in the presentation, such as hydrogen and ammonia, as well as batteries and biofuel, though currently these are discounted due to the immense safety risks for crew in handling these unstable fuels. The use of older, modified technological solutions was also discussed, such as the introduction of kites to aid with vessel propulsion – an approach that was said to reduce emissions by up to 20%.

None of these solutions have been sufficiently developed or scaled to meet the demand of the shipping world. Some alternative fuel approaches have gained traction in short sea and cruise vessels, as pointed out by de Tugny. However, bulkers, tankers, LNG carriers and container vessels make up approximately 89% of the global fleet and so major developments need to be implemented before demand can be met.

To make progress in 2020, de Tugny concluded, the only answer is through a mixture of technical and operational options and solutions citing the ‘hybridisation’ of systems instead of a single solution.