The importance of such a programme is undeniable, as the shipping industry does not currently have the opportunity to utilize a truly environmentally friendly fuel option.
The programme’s focus will be on identifying suitable marine bio-fuels, securing industry certification, and preparing the building blocks for large-scale production.
In addition, the consortium will initiate a global scalability study involving leading ship owners, universities, NGOs, ports, bio-fuel companies, and other industry stakeholders. The aim will be to identify tangible opportunities for scaling supply to the world’s commercial shipping fleet.
According to Henrik Wilhelms, Director of Sales Support, Wärtsilä Marine Solutions, the launch event held last week illustrated the breadth of support the programme is receiving.
“Stakeholders from right across the industry were represented, including owners, operators, users, suppliers, ports, regulators, and NGOs,” Wilhelms says. “This demonstrates the genuine interest in and acknowledgement for the significant opportunity that this initiative represents. It really is a milestone in the reduction of the environmental impact of shipping.”
Green Complement to Today’s Marine Fuel Mix
In the first phase of the programme, Wärtsilä and its partners will choose three next-generation bio-fuels made from industrial waste streams. The fuels are to be tested in an engine (see below) at the Wärtsilä laboratory in Vaasa, Finland, to measure performance and emissions.
“Once given the green light, the bio-fuels will undergo a further endurance test taking place in one of Boskalis’ vessels,” says Wilhelms. “All engine tests will be completed by the end of the year, and the sea trial is set to begin late this year or early 2016, depending on the laboratory tests and the availability of a suitable vessel.”
The bio-fuel test engine in the Wärtsilä laboratory in Vaasa, Finland. (Image: Wärtsilä)
The consortium has set ambitious goals for the programme, seeking to promote a reduced carbon footprint of up to 90% compared with utilizing fossil fuels. Currently, such low emission levels can only be achieved with capital-intensive fleet renewal or retrofitting.
Wärtsilä sees new bio-fuels as a complement to the fuel mix of today, where new environmentally friendly fuels such as LNG have gained a strong foothold in the marine fuels market but still lack the global infrastructure.
“We estimate that by 2030, bio-fuels could contribute 5–10 percent of the total global marine fuel mix,” says Wilhelms. “To go from these estimates to academically sound figures, GoodFuels Marine is undertaking a global study to research the scaling of the supply and demand of marine bio-fuels.”
The global launch of the two-year Sustainable Marine Fuel initiative took place on 7 October in Rotterdam.
Text and main image by Industrial PRIME
tel. +358 45136 3532