Sphera updates research on LNG fuelling benefits

Thursday, 06 May 2021
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A new study analysing the impacts on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from a switch to LNG as a marine fuel has concluded that reductions of up to 23% are achievable.

The Life Cycle GHG Emission Study is the 2nd edition of research conducted by Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) consultancy Sphera, on behalf of industry associations SEA-LNG and the Society for Gas as a Marine Fuel (SGMF).

“It found that, in addition to the considerable air quality benefits it delivers, LNG can “beyond question” contribute significantly to the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) GHG reduction targets,” the report’s authors note.

Latest consumption mixes

The first iteration of the report was launched in 2019 and despite a slowdown in deployment due to the pandemic since then the report’s authors note the rapid rate of development in the sector. As such the new report is the first in a series of updates based on the same methodology designed to provide industry-level insights.

“It is the first on a series of regular updates of GHG emissions to reflect ongoing technology developments in fuel supply and marine propulsion systems... The update includes the latest data for the fuel supply consumption mixes, as well as latest fuel consumption and emission data for the different ship engines.

Well-to-Wake reductions

The researchers found that on an engine technology basis, Well-to-Wake GHG emissions reduction benefits are between 14% to 23% for 2-stroke slow-speed engines, and between 6% to 14% for 4-stroke medium-speed engines compared with oil-fuelled engines.

Looking ahead, Sphera predicts that 2-stroke engines using LNG will offer GHG benefits of up to 24% by 2030, with 4-stroke engines offering up to 22%, as technolgoyt continues to improve.

The study covers all major marine engine types and is based on data provided by original equipment manufacturers, including: Caterpillar MaK, Caterpillar Solar Turbines, GE, MAN Energy Solutions, Rolls Royce (MTU), Wärtsilä, and Winterthur Gas & Diesel. Leading energy firm ExxonMobil, Shell, and Total also provided ancillary data on the supply side.

The report’s authors outline a number of recommendations to increase the visibility and usage of LNG fuelling infrastructure, calling on industry stakeholders to foster greater collaboration and for government’s to improve the clarity of legislation.

“The overarching recommendation from this study is for further investigations to validate if additional energy efficiency measures and improved logistics and speed adaptations might close the gap between the GHG reduction provided by LNG and the 50% absolute GHG emission reduction target to 2050 of the IMO. Beyond question, LNG has a potential to contribute significantly, apart from the significant benefits in terms of air quality, to the GHG reduction target. However, methane emissions need to be reduced to the lowest value possible to increase the benefits and strengthen the factual base for discussions,” Sphera concludes.

Headquartered in Chicago, Sphera is a provider of ESG performance and risk management software, data and consulting services. 

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