Value Maritime

LR: Creating economic incentives for OCCUS adoption key to wider adoption

Onboard carbon capture, utilisation, and storage (OCCUS) has emerged as one of the promising short-term measures shipping can implement for existing vessels to cut carbon emissions.

Illustration; Image credit: Value Maritime

According to a new report by Lloyd’s Register, OCCUS has a high technology readiness level, however, its investment readiness level is lagging behind. Hence, there is a need for the formation of viable economic cases for each player in the supply chain to scale up OCCUS.

The fact that technology readiness for OCCUS is significantly higher than its investment and community readiness is largely due to the development and usage of carbon capture technology outside of the maritime industry, LR said.

Nevertheless, in order to be able to do so, evidence is required to validate the real-world performance of onboard capture technology, to ensure adopters can be assured of the technology’s emission reduction credentials.

Several vendors have developed carbon capture and storage solutions, which have now reached the pilot stage of development.

One such solution is Value Maritime’s onboard CO2 capture and storage unit, which uses post-combustion chemical absorption of heavy fuel oil (HFO) in an onboard tank. This solution has gained market traction and has been awarded an Approval in Principle (AIP) by Loyd’s Register and ABS.

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Value Maritime’s carbon capture solution is currently being installed onboard vessels, with X-Press Feeders/Eastaway in the process of commissioning a two-vessel pilot. On an Eastern Pacific Shipping-managed vessel, the M/T Pacific Cobalt, the solution is expected to capture up to 40% of the vessel’s main and auxiliary engine emissions. While these systems are still in their early stages of development, they offer hope for a more sustainable future for the shipping industry.

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However, at this stage, there is insufficient evidence to validate the real-world performance of these systems or the systems from other vendors. It is crucial to note that the Technology Readiness Level (TRL) has been assessed to be 6, and progression to TRL 7 will be dependent on validated capture rates. In other words, leading solutions are in early deployments, and their efficacy is yet to be confirmed.

That being said, the system is still in the early stages, with the attractiveness to CO2 consumers of this containerised solution unknown, and although government support for CO2 transport and storage
infrastructure is growing in several countries, pilots at ports for CO2 offloading remain in the early stages. As a result, the investment sits at 2 at this stage, LR said.

“The maritime industry needs decarbonisation solutions that reduce emissions in the short to mid-term, and carbon capture can be a transitional tool for operators and owners to do this,” Charles Haskell, Director, LR Maritime Decarbonisation Hub, said.

“The research also underlines the need for maritime supply chain stakeholders to come together, to ensure that the required infrastructure is developed and implemented to allow the industry to use the solutions which score high on technology readiness.”

The industry needs to reduce risks and uncertainties to secure financing for CCS projects and determine how CO2 will be transported to determine port infrastructure requirements. The economic case needs to be determined for all stakeholders across the supply chain to avoid bottlenecks. Port readiness is about more than equipment, it also involves business processes, people, and safety procedures. State-sponsored clusters like Scotland’s Acorn project can create critical mass to drive growth and ensure infrastructure is future-proofed.

Moving forward

For OCCUS to be adopted successfully, a combination of policies and regulations is necessary to encourage investment, ensure safety and compliance, and promote continued research and development. While the IMO’s revised strategy for reducing GHG emissions from ships is a prerequisite that will create the right environment for OCCUS, it is not enough on its own. Further measures must be put in place to support the widespread implementation of OCCUS.

LR insists that to see the potential benefits of OCCUS adoption, regulations will need to be updated to address the practical challenges, including carbon accounting and how OCCUS aligns with MARPOL regulations. There is also a need for significant infrastructure scaling and investment for onboard and offloading solutions to drive adoption. Additionally, safety and operational factors surrounding offloading of liquified CO2 as a result of the carbon capture process need to be considered.