Panos Koutsourakis, ABS Director, Global Sustainability, explains why hydrogen and carbon value chains will drive net-zero energy transition, says an article published in Riviera.
For an industry that has depended on fuel oil for more than 50 years, the energy transition requires the creation of new value chains for energy sources and marine traffic emissions.
This mission includes scaling up alternatives to primary and auxiliary energy and managing the economic downturn that the fossil fuel industry will inevitably face.
While many believe that a net zero shipping strategy will be difficult to achieve, there are paths that can lead to this goal. Issues related to non-vehicular fleets are complex and require synchronous cooperation between industrial sectors.
The energy transition that must take place to achieve the decarbonization targets will be based on two value chains, hydrogen and carbon.
The 6 million tonnes of green hydrogen that maritime traffic will likely require by 2050 demonstrates the importance of increasing renewable energy production.
In addition, it provides the basis for fossil fuel-based hydrogen use with carbon capture as a transitional alternative.
Hydrogen, captured carbon and biomass are the most promising elements for sustainable fuel production;
These are the key ingredients to creating a carbon-free fuel set.
Developing new facilities
Hydrogen should not be thought of as a single molecule on the periodic table or as a marine fuel.
It is a medium that can be converted into various forms as an energy carrier.
Renewable energy through electrolysis can be converted into hydrogen, an energy carrier that can be stored and transported by sea in different forms.
This will require the participation of multiple actors in the form of joint ventures and interconnected organizations to address demand along the value chain;
The development of new facilities or the upgrading and retrofitting of existing facilities will be essential to deal with the emerging transition and the physical risks involved in it.
In contrast with the hydrogen value chain, which is an energy conversion system, the carbon value chain is an abatement mechanism.
This system creates a separate value chain that intersects with the hydrogen value chain to produce blue (rather than green) fuels as renewable producers scale up to meet the future demand.
Currently, the carbon chain is a niche sector, but the need for scale-up may transform carbon into a valuable commodity.
In essence, the marine and offshore sectors are becoming fundamental enablers of the energy transition as indispensable links of the two value chains.
Electro-fuels have the potential to offer carbon-neutral propulsion and provide carbon-reduction solutions in the medium to long term.
In addition to fossil and biomass sources, electro-fuels can be produced by carbon-dioxide recovery, a technique that converts CO2 to syngas, which in turn can be used to produce bioLNG or biomethanol.
Carbon-neutral fuels such as biofuels also have a great potential to support the transition to alternative fuels.
‘Drop-in fuels’ such as biodiesels can be used in increasingly higher percentage blends to lower the emissions from marine vessels with little change to their current operations.
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