Yesterday’s high profile report into the climate implications of using LNG as a marine fuel produced by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), read by thousands of people on this site, has drawn swift criticism from the fuel’s most vocal backers.
The 40-page study, commissioned by international environmental organisation Stand.earth, states that largely down to so-called methane slippage ships fuelled by LNG do not deliver the emissions reductions required by the International Maritime Organization’s initial greenhouse gas (GHG) strategy, and that using LNG could actually worsen shipping’s climate impacts.
The Society for Gas as a Marine Fuel (SGMF) and another lobby group SEA\LNG have since contacted Splash with a joint statement taking aim at the report’s methodologies and the authors’ failure to get direct input from engine manufacturers.
SGMF and SEA\LNG said they continue to stand by the results of the Thinkstep study published in April 2019. The study looked at the lifecycle GHG emissions of LNG as a marine fuel compared with current and post-2020 conventional marine fuels. The analysis was based on the latest primary data available from the main marine engine manufacturers, namely; Caterpillar MaK, Caterpillar Solar Turbines, GE Aviation, MAN Energy Solutions, MTU Friedrichshafen, Winterthur Gas & Diesel (WinGD) and Wärtsilä. On the fuel supply chains, data from internationally recognised lifecycle databases was supplemented with information from ExxonMobil, Shell and Total. The study assessed the supply and use of LNG as a marine fuel according to ISO standards. Tto ensure objectivity, the Thinkstep study was peer-reviewed by academics in France, Germany, Japan and the USA.
“Right now in January 2020 there are three compliant fuel solutions available, LNG is one of them and is both available and scalable,” the two LNG supporting bodies stated. “Use of LNG will reduce GHG emissions from marine transportation. It will further provide a strong foundation towards a zero-emissions shipping industry through the use of liquefied biomethane and liquefied synthetic methane, as well as initiating the development of much longer-term alternative fuel solutions that are not yet available or feasible.”
Yesterday’s report sparked heated comments on the Splash site. Singapore consultant Giulio Gennaro wrote: “[B]efore convicting LNG on a partial and shortsighted accusation it should be recalled that LNG delivers a tremendous reduction in SOx and [particulate matter] in comparison to HFO, MDO, MGO and LSFO. And SOx and PM are the big source of mortality and morbidity due to air pollution. In particular LNG is possible the best fuel to reduce mortality and morbidity, the best fuel to reduce total externalities, albeit at an increase in GHG.”
Giving his own view on the contentious debate, Splash lead Opinion writer Andrew Craig-Bennett wrote: “We knew about the SOx and the particulates; so what? To base the case for more methane on SOx reductions in 2020 is a bit silly.”