Sustainable biofuels for the future

08 Oct 2015

A new European initiative is being launched with the aim of encouraging and promoting the use of biofuels as a sustainable, reliable, low-emissions alternative for the shipping industry.

With 90% of global trade transported by ship, the environmental performance of the industry is closely tied to future global environmental and economic sustainability. While the use of biofuels has been considered for several years to reduce emissions and provide a cost-effective alternative energy source for vessels, it’s yet to take off.

The two-year programme is the joint work of Boskalis, Wärtsilä and GoodFuels Marine and is supported by Carbon War Room, Zero and both the ports of Amsterdam and Rotterdam.

Speaking at the launch of the initiative today, Dirk Kronemeijer, CEO, GoodFuels, said: “A lot of biofuels out there do not improve the world, but we’re here to raise the sustainability bar with those that do.”

Working together, they will carry out extensive testing of three types of next generation biofuels – chemical testing will be carried out by GoodFuels, while Wärtsilä will carry out the testing with its engines. Following this, ‘sea trials’ will be carried out on various vessels within Boskalis’ global fleet.

Initially, the focus is on ‘drop in’ marine biofuels. The consortium says it considers these integral to, but currently missing in, the long-term marine fuel mix made up of other viable options such as (bio) LNG. The group says these ‘drop in’ fuels should be suited to blend with MGO, as it will do research and testing of pure biofuels, as a possible replacement of HFO in SECA areas.

The consortium believes that these biofuels will play a viable role in reducing emissions that no other fuel can currently achieve, without a capital-intensive fleet renewal or retrofitting.  

It will then push for industry certification and tangible opportunities for scaling supply to the world’s commercial shipping fleet.

A representative from the Port of Amsterdam, added: “As ports with environmental excellence at our core, we embrace the vision of next generation biofuels supporting a more sustainable future for global marine transport. In addition we see marine biofuels as a potential building block to boost the bio-based production and economy in our respective ports, but its success depends on issues and topics that are beyond our own control as ports.”

Next to testing, the consortium will initiate a global scalability study involving leading marine customers, universities, NGOs, Ports, (Bio)Fuel companies, IMO and other leading players and institutes, which should identify tangible opportunities for scaling supply in the near future.

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