If you were asked to put money on the fuel of the future which one would you choose? While some marine industry analysts might consider LNG as tomorrow’s likely source of marine power, others prefer to advocate methanol, biodiesel or hydrogen as their fuels of the future.
Although Lloyd’s Register has invested heavily in supporting the development of LNG as a marine fuel and believes it has a bright future, it is worth stepping back and considering the options.
“The number of LNG-fuelled ships being ordered is a small proportion of the existing and future fleet and LNG headlines have obscured other alternative fuels and inferred oil is dying. And for LNG to supplant oil, it needs a fuel supply infrastructure,” said John Bradshaw, Lloyd’s Register Marine’s Lead Project Engineer for Machinery.
“There is no one size fits all best solution. Lloyd’s Register expects to see continued strong growth in the LNG-as-a- fuel market, but oil will retain a large market share. Alternative fuels such as methanol, biodiesel and hydrocarbon gases like LPG will gain traction, while more radical options such as hydrogen and nuclear should not be discounted, “ said Bradshaw.
The interest in marine fuels has partly been influenced by changes to NOᵪ and SOᵪ emission limits –with the introduction of SECAs (Sulphur Emission Control Areas) in 2015 and ECAs (Emission Control Areas) in 2020 – and is attracting a following in alternative energy conversion technologies such as gas turbines, batteries and fuel cells.
“To misquote Mark Twain, rumours of the death of oil are greatly exaggerated. Oil remains the dominant marine fuel and, with clean emissions, technology will continue to compete against the newer fuels entering shipping,” added Bradshaw.