Shipping Still in the Dark on ‘Green’ Fuels

Shipping companies are still waiting for “real green” fuel solutions as part of decarbonisation efforts to clean up the industry, a leading industry official said.

Shipping, which transports around 90% of world trade and accounts for nearly 3% of the world’s CO2 emissions, is under growing pressure from environmentalists to deliver more concrete action including a carbon levy.

“We are still awaiting engine and ship builders to come up with real green solutions,” Haralambos Fafalios, chairman of the Greek Shipping Co-operation Committee (GSCC), said in a speech at an annual event in London this week.

“We need a simple incentive such as a fuel levy as a medium term measure until safe alternative fuels become available in the long term.”

The industry has been testing a number of cleaner fuel options including ammonia and methanol as well as trialling wind sails in an effort to look for new solutions away from dirtier bunker fuel. 

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Fafalios said many companies, whether in shipping or commodity traders, “are touting the strengths of their favourite fuels, but none so far have a real green footprint on a well-to- wake basis”.

Well-to-wake refers to the measurement of emissions from fuel production to fuel consumption onboard a ship. 

Fafalios said “none of these alternative green, zero or low carbon fuels yet have a global bunkering or cost infrastructure to support the world fleet”.

“Ammonia for example is at present a very dangerous fuel and not enough safety measures have been put into place to make it a realistic option.” 

The London-based GSCC is one of the leading bodies representing Greek shipping, which is among the world’s biggest shipowners.