BSMC: North America needs around 31 million tonnes of green methanol to replace marine diesel fuel

Approximately 31 million tonnes of green methanol would be required to replace the diesel fuel now burned by the North American Waterborne Transportation (NAWT) fleet, an analysis of the carbon footprint and emissions-free fuel requirement for the NAWT business has shown.

The analysis was presented in a report released by the Blue Sky Maritime Coalition (BSMC), a non-profit strategic alliance whose members represent all aspects of the maritime value chain in North America, focusing on the emissions from movements on the inland and coastal waterways and in North American ports.

Developed by the Finance, Commercial and Chartering Workstream, the report found annual CO2 emissions from the NAWT fleet and from ports in North America were estimated to amount to 66 million tonnes in 2018.

One of the report’s conclusions states that around 31 million tonnes of green methanol would be required to replace the diesel fuel in the NAWT fleet.

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However, the production of this alternative fuel is limited in North America and some examples include Montreal-based Enerkem which produces bio-methanol from municipal solid waste feedstock.

Danish shipping giant could contribute to the increase in production as it has announced an investment in a Texas facility to produce green methanol for its fleet.

Moreover, the report finds that total CO2 emissions from the 9,500 vessels in the NAWT fleet amounted to approximately 47 million tonnes in 2018, which would be eliminated by replacing diesel with an emissions-free alternative fuel.

The analysis showed that the offshore support vessel fleet and the inland tug and push-boat fleets make up nearly 50% of the total North American maritime-related emissions.

Coastal and harbour tugs and ferries make up another 14% and tankers and articulated tug-barges contribute 6%.

In order to tackle the decarbonisation challenges and achieve the net-zero by 2050 goal, the report highlights fuel replacement as the primary route.

Liquefied natural gas (LNG), as one of the alternative fuels, is already making headway in the NAWT fleet and methanol is also being championed by Maersk which has commercial relationships with NAWT business players, the report states.

The maritime industry sees methanol as one of the key solutions for decarbonisation due to its benefits such s fungibility, availability, energy density and most importantly, the ability to significantly reduce emissions.

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Finally, the report puts the U.S. Gulf of Mexico in the spotlight as a region with abundant renewable energy and concentrated CO2 emissions that are a necessary input to the production of net-zero fuels.

“Establishing a baseline for emissions that considers operational variables and unique sector characteristics is an important step in being able to measure progress toward our decarbonisation goals. Sharing this data is key to building collaboration and trust among our stakeholders and helps chart a path forward together”, said continued David Cummins, BSMC President and CEO.

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