Renewable methanol fuel hindered by pricing

Green methanol is currently cheaper than MGO, but how long will subsidies last? (Photo: Maritime Knowledge Center) Green methanol is currently cheaper than MGO, but how long will subsidies last? (Photo: Maritime Knowledge Center)

Lower investment and space requirements than LNG make methanol attractive, but the cost of bio-methanol is a barrier, according to a new Dutch study into the environmentally friendly fuel.

Over the past year the Maritime Knowledge Center, TNO and TU Delft (with support from the Dutch ministry of economic affairs), have investigated the possibilities of using methanol to cut emissions in shipping. Methanol has comparable environmental performance to LNG, but requires less space and up-front investment.

“It is a clean fossil fuel that is also available worldwide in large quantities,” said project leader Project leader Pieter 't Hart of maritime consultancy Koers & Vaart. "Moreover, the transition from grey to green (renewable) methanol is relatively simple and requires hardly any additional investment for ship owners. However, the cost price of green methanol is still too high.”

Green methanol is also subject to a subsidy system described as ‘vulnerable’ by the report. These subsides mean that green methanol is currently cheaper than marine gas oil, but they are not secure in the long term and offer little security for ship owners.

“If that financial bump can be taken, we’ll make a big leap forward towards zero-emission ships,” said Hart.

The report – which looks at methanol as marine fuel experiences to date – include Waterfront Shipping’s methanol carriers and the ro-pax Stena Germanica - can be downloaded here.

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