Battery, hydrogen and ammonia-powered ships by far the most efficient way to decarbonise the sector – analysis

(Transport and Environment, 15 Nov 2018) Powering European ships with batteries, hydrogen or ammonia will decarbonise the fleet and require only half the amount of renewable electricity that less efficient solutions like synthetic methane or synthetic diesel will need.

That’s according to sustainable transport group Transport & Environment, which has published a Roadmap to Decarbonising European Shipping. The EU must set out in its 2050 Decarbonisation Strategy, to be published on 28 November, how it will end the use of fossil fuels in shipping, including marine fuel oil and liquified natural gas (LNG).

Battery powered ships offer the most efficient and immediate solution to decarbonise short sea voyages within the EU. Longer journeys will ultimately require liquid hydrogen and liquid ammonia produced with zero-emission electricity. Powering ships calling at EU ports with a combination of the three would require around 25% additional renewable electricity compared to total EU electricity production today, the analysis finds. This is a considerable amount but still half of what is required by other options like synthetic methane or synthetic diesel.

Shipping emits 3% of global CO2 and would be the 6th biggest emitter after Japan if it were a country. EU-related shipping is responsible for about one-fifth of these emissions. The UN’s International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has just agreed a goal to reduce shipping emissions by at least 50% by 2050, but there are no plans to reach zero emissions.

Faig Abbasov, shipping officer at T&E, said: “Shipping is the neglected stepchild of EU climate policy. We need progress at international level coupled with practical steps in Europe such as investment in both shore-side charging stations and the production and bunkering infrastructure needed for hydrogen. A zero-emission shipping strategy in the EU would help cut pollution but also give European companies an edge in what will be some of the most important technologies of the future.”

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Transport and Environment, 15 Nov 2018: Battery, hydrogen and ammonia-powered ships by far the most efficient way to decarbonise the sector – analysis