The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has issued a 115-page report in which it makes a strong case for the rapid development of green hydrogen infrastructure, suggesting renewable fuels based on the substance and advanced biofuels could cut up to 80% of CO2 emissions attributed to shipping by 2050.
Renewable fuels should contribute at least 70% of the sector’s energy mix in 2050, IRENA’s report suggests, outlining a roadmap for the global shipping sector in line with the global 1.5°C climate goal. The report comes out just over a fortnight ahead of COP26, a major international climate summit taking place in Glasgow.
IRENA’s director-general Francesco La Camera said: “Decarbonising global shipping is one of the most challenging sectors to address – and despite raised ambitions – current plans fall short of what is needed. This IRENA outlook clearly shows that cutting CO2 emissions in such a strategic, hard to abate sector is technically feasible through green hydrogen fuels.”
Cutting CO2 emissions in such a hard to abate sector is technically feasible through green hydrogen fuels
IRENA’s decarbonisation 1.5°C pathway (see chart at bottom of article) is based on four key measures such as indirect electrification by employing green hydrogen-based fuels, the inclusion of advanced biofuels, the improvement of vessels’ energy efficiency and the reduction of sectoral activity due to systemic changes in global trade dynamics.
E-methanol and e-ammonia are the most promising green hydrogen-based fuels, with particularly e-ammonia set to be the backbone for the sector’s decarbonising by 2050, the IRENA report predicts. E-ammonia could represent as much as 43% of the sector’s energy needs in 2050, which would imply the use of about 183m tonnes of renewable ammonia for international shipping alone, a comparable amount to today’s ammonia global production, according to IRENA projections.
In order to make these new fuels price competitive, IRENA has joined the growing throng of organisations calling for a carbon levy, something that will be keenly debated at next month’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) gathering at the International Maritime Organization.
Splash will be bringing readers regular updates from both COP26 and MEPC over the coming six weeks.