You are here

Shipping leaders seek to develop biofuels roadmap

GLOBAL: Shipping leaders seek to develop biofuels roadmap

The Sustainable Shipping Initiative (SSI) and the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB) met in Berlin last month at an event designed to support the SSI as it explores options for the use of alternative fuels to help meet its goal of a sustainable shipping industry by 2040.

Held during the RSB’s Annual Meeting of its members and stakeholders, the session reviewed the expertise and experience of RSB members as part of the SSI’s efforts in learning about other industries’ experiences to draw on and drive change across the maritime sector.

A panel of experts looked at the lessons that the shipping sector can take from the aviation industry – which, says RSB, has been blazing the trail for alternative fuels for several years.

‘We are ambitious: decarbonising the maritime sector is a huge task! But we have seen that it is possible to change an industry narrative to become more sustainable, just as we have seen in the aviation industry,’ said Andrew Stephens, SSI’s Executive Director. ‘We believe that we will find better solutions, faster, by building alliances with and learning from other industries and leaders. We, at the SSI, are delighted to be collaborating with the RSB at this session, and we’re looking forward to further discussing ways of how we can draw on your experiences for the maritime sector’s sustainability journey.’

Frederic Eychenne, Head of New Energies at Airbus, added: ‘The RSB Annual Meeting was a fantastic opportunity to share best practices and views on sustainability – particularly as a forum for examining the lessons and expertise we have gained in the aviation sector to support the decarbonisation of other industries, particularly maritime.’

The second part of the session featured fuel experts from across the supply chain, including Philipp Stratmann of Velocys, Barbara Bramble from NWF, Bart Hellings from GoodFuels Marine and UPM Biofuels’ Maiju Helin, as well Kenneth Poucher, Global Environmental Advisor at A.P. Moeller-Maersk and Chester Lewis from E4Tech, who discussed the challenges and possible solutions to support the decarbonisation of the sector.

These sessions attempted to answer questions such as: How do we build a truly sustainable shipping industry by 2040? What lessons can be learned from the trail already being blazed by the aviation industry? What technical and supply chain expertise is needed to create the truly sustainable alternative fuels the industry will need if it is become a leader in the fight against climate change?

The SSI’s Working Group on Biofuels is a group of like-minded industry leaders committed to decarbonisation and the use of alternatives fuels for shipping. The Working Group is composed of representatives from Bunge, The China Navigation Company, IMC, Lloyds Register, Louis Dreyfus Company, Maersk and WWF.

Among the SSI’s achievements and work on decarbonisation and biofuels are: a University College London (UCL)-led study that examined the CO2 reductions required in order to limit global emissions to below the 2 degrees target (2015); research on Zero Emission Vessels (ZEVs) conducted by Lloyd’s Register Group and University Maritime Advisory Services (2018); and a deep dive into the issues related to biofuels and exploring its sustainability for shipping.

Summing up the session, panellist from WWF and Chairman of RSB’s Board, Stephen Wetmore concluded: ‘If the RSB Annual Meeting had one key takeaway it would be “collaboration”, actively exploring synergies through a potential supply chain increasingly means working across sectors. It is therefore particularly exciting to see the Sustainable Shipping Initiative engage with RSB, aviation leaders and fuel providers as it looks to build an alternative fuels roadmap. There is immense mutual benefit to helping each other shape demand, make and attract investments, and fast track action. We are encouraged that this means they are keenly looking to embed real and credible sustainability from day one.’

Simon Bennett, General Manager for Sustainable Development at the China Navigation Company, said: ‘This joint session between the RSB and the SSI at the former’s annual meeting was very useful indeed. It allowed the marine sector to gain knowledge of the experience built up over a decade of the RSB working to help decarbonise the air transport sector and helped us identify the known unknowns that we must answer to use sustainable biofuel to help our sector decarbonise. It also helped us all begin to identify the economic questions that we must work on if we are to viably introduce a significant new demand market user from the marine sector into the current tight supply side market.’

Ultimately, the event aimed to spark conversations, build collaborations and serve as a foundation for the ongoing work of the SSI in developing a sustainable fuels roadmap and to help the RSB to bring its best-in-class approach to sustainability to a new audience.

Looking ahead to 2019, the collaboration between the two organisations is set to continue with RSB providing support to the SSI’s biofuels task force.