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Research Project

Marine Fuels for Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Shipping


In This Project, You’ll Learn About

  • Progress being made towards zero emissions fuels for shipping
  • Advantages and disadvantages of different marine fuels
  • The latest innovations that are making low-carbon fuels more available
  • How to avoid unintended consequences of inadequate policies that can increase greenhouse gas emissions instead of reducing them

Project Summary

Clear Seas conducted an analysis of the lifecycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with different alternative marine fuels and researched the barriers preventing their adoption. The highlights from this research are summarized in articles and presentations to support policy makers and industry as they are heading towards the goal of reducing 50% of GHG emissions from marine shipping by 2050, as compared to 2008 levels, and achieve net-zero GHG emissions. The resources that result from this research initiative also provide a valuable introduction to anyone interested in learning more about the challenges associated with decarbonizing marine shipping.

Project Benefits

  • Clearer understanding of the challenges and potential pitfalls along the path to decarbonization of marine shipping
  • Comprehensive discussion about a wide range of alternative fuels
  • Identification of priority areas for further research and development

Project Outputs

Article: Getting to Zero by 2050 – Technical Regulatory Details Matter in Accelerating Decarbonization of Marine Fuels

Action at the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to regulate emissions from fuel production, and to consider all types of greenhouse gases (GHGs) — not just CO2 — is moving slowly and not receiving much attention. But these regulatory details are probably more important than the headline-grabbing move to target net-zero GHG emissions by 2050. Here’s why.

Article: Decarbonizing Marine Shipping, Clean Fuels for a Greener Future?

Is a fossil fuel free future for marine shipping a realistic goal or just a pipe dream? Ship fuels manufactured using renewable electricity and made purely from water and the gases found in the atmosphere are being proposed as the solution to decarbonizing marine shipping.

Presentation: Making Progress Towards Net-Zero Shipping Through Alternative Fuels

As the global shipping industry begins to chart a course towards 2050 and achieving net-zero emissions, a great deal of interest has begun to be focused on hydrogen-based marine fuels. Options under consideration include ammonia, methanol, and methane. Clear Seas has identified several potential roadblocks in the performance, safety, storage, and feasibility for use of these fuels on existing ships, as well as in the scalability of renewable hydrogen production as a feedstock. This presentation provides the highlights from Clear Seas’ research and identifies critical areas of focus for technology and policy innovation.

Presentation: Unintended Consequences – Identifying Conflict Between the Dual Objectives of Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Air Pollution from Marine Shipping

To address the impacts of climate change, the marine shipping industry is striving to reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. But these two objectives are not always aligned and sometimes have unintended consequences. Fascinating trade-offs are revealed. For example, measures to reduce air pollution have, in some cases, resulted in vessels travelling further, thus burning more fuel and emitting more greenhouse gas. Furthermore, certain lower-carbon fuels have potentially higher air pollution emissions while some low-sulphur fuels have been observed to increase particulate emissions, including black carbon that can act in the same way as a very potent greenhouse gas. Examples like these should be carefully considered by policy makers and those setting environmental certification standards because of the potential conflicts they may unintentionally be setting up.

Project Partners

Clear Seas commissioned Alion Science and Technology (Canada) Corporation to conduct a comprehensive literature analysis of the climate change impacts of a range of marine fuels. The results of this literature analysis were used to support this project.

Research Team

Clear Seas team member Paul Blomerus

Paul Blomerus

Executive Director, Clear Seas

Clear Seas team member Meghan Mathieson

Meghan Mathieson

Director of Strategy and Engagement, Clear Seas

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