Recently, I spoke with Astrid Sonneveld, Head of Marine and International, for GoodFuels a developer and supplier of advanced biofuels targeting the road, rail, aviation and marine sectors. We spoke about the promise of marine biofuels to help decarbonize the sector. You can listen to or download the podcast below or listen to it in ITunes.
“If you look around toward sustainability topics being on the rise and the political agenda, I think maritime pollution is very clearly one of them. They see that apart from having a target in place, measures and simulations to get the solutions actually implemented is clearly there. At a national level, particularly in Europe and North America, it’s clearly there, but at the same time. At the IMO level, of course, it’s been an ongoing discussion on what to do with pollution for the maritime industry. You see that the pressure is building up. They were always pretty much the early ones to participate in the discussions. It’s already two decades that they have been discussing the pollution of coals in maritime fuels.
Today, there isn’t still a very clear plan for action being introduced, but ultimately the greenhouse gas reduction strategy is not yet determined. That causes a lot of external pressure as well. The current agreement is there. The shipping industry at the moment is the only big player in the world that doesn’t have a clear strategy moving forward in terms of emissions reduction. If the IMO wouldn’t continue to pressure the maritime industry to clean up the fuel mix, it would be very detrimental to the overall achievement globally.”
“I think if you look into, for example LNG and methanol, these are wonderful fuels to cut back on air pollutants, emissions, improve local air quality, but usually by default, you are opting for a cheaper option. This means that you still are opting for just another fossil fuel. In terms of decarbonization, there is still a big challenge that remains. You see some of the first mover countries as it comes to low carbon technology about to qualify some of these options as maybe outdated fuel choices in the sense that they are wonderful technologies, but it doesn’t really help a lot in terms of climate change.
In that sense, it would be a first half from the current fossil fuel to either LNG or methanol and then onwards, you would need to switch from LNG to bio-LNG, from methanol to bio-methanol and so on. It’s only a temporary solution. Marine biofuels are very quick and very easy answer to decarbonization if you choose the right feedstock and at the same time, they don’t require modification to the engines or infrastructure. They can be made to just replace on a one to one basis replacing fossil fuels.”
“I think the biggest market potential for marine biofuels is on the territorial waters of those countries, the IMO member countries, that are pushing for decarbonization. They want to prove and showcase that it actually can be done and for example, start off with procured shipping services in their own territorial waters. That is a very clear sweet spot in the market from our point of view, but at the same time, you see if it comes to ships operating international waters, that part of maritime industry, there’s a pretty clear drive coming from cargo owners.”