Bio-methane, produced from biomass, and synthetic methane made using renewable energy could emulate liquefied natural gas as a marine fuel, according to a study conducted by Dutch researcher CE Delft and commissioned by industry group SEA-LNG. The analysts assessed the use of the green fuels for the years 2030 and 2050.
Production costs of LBM and LSM could be on par with those of some other low- and zero-carbon fuels, such as hydrogen and ammonia. If fueling infrastructure and ship costs are comparable as well, LSM and LBM would be viable candidate fuels for a decarbonized shipping sector at least by 2050, it said.
“The growing LNG-fueled fleet can use LBM and LSM; and they can be transported, stored and bunkered in existing LNG infrastructure,” the study said.
LBM is already globally available and scalable, while availability of LSM will depend on build-out of renewable electricity capacity, which is also seen as a key driver for the development of other synthetic fuels such as green hydrogen and ammonia.
Current renewable electricity supplies are insufficient to produce enough LSM to power a significant share of the global shipping fleet, the study showed.
The International Maritime Organization aims to reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions from shipping by at least 50% by 2050 compared with 2008.