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EC - lack of green maritime fuels makes LNG necessary for now

Friday, 01 October 2021

European Commission (EC) representatives have conceded that Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) is a necessary transition fuel on the path to decarbonisation. The supply of low-carbon fuels suitable for marine applications is currently insufficient.

During a Euractiv-organised conference on green innovation in maritime, the panel acknowledged the criticisms from environmental groups regarding the FuelEU Maritime decision to include LNG as a transition fuel in their legislation, potentially making it more difficult for the industry to wean itself from carbonised fuels.

However, Joaquim Nunes de Almeida, director with the EC DG GROW offered, "Right now, the truth of the matter is that you still have very little renewables and hydrogen or decarbonised forms of energy available in Europe." Further, de Almeda expanded on supply issues, noting problems with upscaling and competition with fossil fuels.

“We’re on a difficult journey here, so we need to have some understanding for the industry that is on the one hand faced with an increased carbon price and on the other hand with a lack of real alternatives for the moment,” he added.

It was explained that the proposed legislative amendments were intended to give the shipping and cruise sector targets and legal predictability as the transition to low-carbon is undertaken.

The Commission has also proposed expanding the EU’s Emissions Trading System, which puts a price on carbon emissions, to the maritime sector.

Green Fuels and Biomethane

There was a consensus amongst the Euractiv panellists that potential zero-emission solutions should be evaluated on a technology-neutral basis. And while some scepticism about green hydrogen as a maritime fuel was raised, no fuels were highlighted as a preferred solution.

“Nobody has the precise answer to how this will unfold, but my gut feeling is that at the end of the day, we will see a combination of different technologies,” said Ukko Matsola, Director General of CLIA Europe.

“So it’s not just going to be one fuel, there could be two different fuels in combination with battery technologies and new propulsion technologies, all coming together that can meet the regulatory requirements and that reach net carbon neutral cruising, which is our vision,” he added.

However, the following points are noted with regards to biomethane in the maritime industry:

  • The EC has agreed to a 1.2 multiplier for advanced biofuels (of which the biomethane industry is suited to take advantage of) for both the maritime and aviation sectors when considering blending targets (although some have questioned the need for this multiplier).
  • When considering biomethane for transport, shipping applications have been preferable to the other sub-sectors - direct usage of biomethane for aviation is not possible, while road transport sees greater competition from electrification (particularly as far as the smaller vehicle market is concerned) and other renewable alternatives.



FuelEU Maritime