Decarbonising the maritime sector

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In the quest for a greener and more sustainable future, the maritime industry has found itself at the forefront of efforts to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
The European Union’s FuelEU Maritime regulation and the International Maritime Organisation’s (IMO) decarbonisation strategy have set the scene for decades to come, in a critical transition for the shipping industry.
With the GHG Reduction targets at the core of the FuelEU maritime regulation much-needed incentives to create an effective and planable framework for shipping companies have finally arrived, now it is time for action for the shipping sector.
Trade routes
The maritime industry is a pivotal component of global trade and transportation.
However, according to the IMO, shipping is responsible for 2.9% of global GHG emissions.
The EU, as a frontrunner in climate efforts, has recently agreed upon its strategy to reduce its marine footprint by incentivising the use of low-carbon fuels and fostering the adoption of alternative energy sources.
FuelEU Maritime is a new European regulation starting in 2025 and establishing a requirement to reduce yearly average well-to-wake GHG intensity of energy used on-board for all ships above 5,000 gross tonnage and transporting passengers or cargo.
The focal GHG intensity reduction targets set incrementally rise from 2% in 2025 to 80% in 2050.
It is no secret that biofuels are the most ‘technologically ready’ existing alternative lower carbon fuel options for maritime.
One of the primary advantages of waste-derived biodiesel is its compatibility with existing engines and infrastructure. Vessels do not need to undergo modifications to accommodate such fuels, therefore limiting the barriers of adoption.
Waste-based and advanced biodiesel achieves the highest GHG savings of all renewable transport fuels under Annex V of the Renewable Energy Directive (RED II) with up to 90% emissions savings compared to fossil fuels.
In addition, biofuels emit fewer pollutants like sulphur oxides (SOx) and nitrogen oxides (NOx), contributing to cleaner air.
For obligated parties that need to reduce their emissions drastically today, biofuels could be a strategic tool in their fuel mix.
To this end, Bunker Holding is working with waste-based and advanced biodiesel producers to be able to offer sustainable solutions in more than 80 ports around the world.
Biofuels are indeed a feasible solution which can be used already today in existing ship engines without any major adjustments. Depending on the engine, there can be a broad range of blends (up to 100% biofuels) of waste-based biodiesel that can help optimize quality and economics.
Bunker Holding looks at any inquiry individually and aims to provide a customised solution.
The company aims to be an active part in facilitating the use of biofuels and especially the last mile delivery.
Biofuels need to be made accessible, in relevant ports globally. Connecting the dots between global supply of sustainable fuels and the shipping industry will require the development of efficient, short and low carbon intense supply chains.
Growing demand
Over the past years, demand for biofuels has been on the rise as they can be mixed with traditional fuel oils used to provide an immediate solution towards EU obligations and IMO requirements such as the Carbon Intensity Indicator (CII).
This is an extremely attractive decarbonisation solution for ship owners as it can be achieved without the need for large-scale capital investments, which are necessary for other decarbonisation options, such as the retrofitting of engines to dual-fuel capability.
In addition to the IMO and FuelEU Maritime targets, last year’s decision by the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MECP) to approve the use of marine fuel oils with up to 30% biofuel content with no NOx testing required has considerably shifted marine fuel demand patterns.
Such blends now fall under the definition of marine fuel oil and can be used without the need for prior approvals or additional testing requirements.
Bunker Holding has sustainable fuels and environmental regulations experts and is able to support its customers navigate the complexity of the new regulatory framework.
In terms of scaling up volumes, the revised Annex IX of RED has introduced a significant number of new feedstocks for the production of waste-derived biofuels.
Over the past five years, the waste-based and biodiesel industry has invested heavily in technological advancements to retrofit biodiesel plants, build new production facilities, optimise on production capacity as well as enhance the ability to process lower-grade waste feedstocks that so far were very difficult to utilise.
In times of energy insecurity, domestic renewable fuel production will be key to support the European industry in this energy transition. Enhancing energy security by reducing the reliance on imported fossil fuels is a sign of strength and prosperity and this should be the continent’s long-term aim.
Bunker Holding understands the important role to support the best available technologies and fuels to support the green transition for shipping.
The way to achieve these ambitious targets is to incorporate a mix of the best available solutions to decarbonize maritime as efficiently and promptly as possible.
In this context waste-based and advanced biodiesel has a key role to play to decarbonise the maritime transport sector in the years to come.
For more information: This article was put together by Valerie Ahrens, the Global Director of Sustainable Fuels at Bunker Holding Group. Visit: ewaba.com

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