The UK can and will attract alternative-fuelled tonnage to its ports if it becomes a first mover in the energy transition, says Francesco Sandrelli, Policy Director – Environment, UK Chamber of Shipping.
Speaking to Bunkerspot in the wake of London International Shipping Week, where he participated in a panel session during the Clean Maritime Day event, Sandrelli suggests that if the UK were to establish a clear energy strategy that includes ports and shipping, it could present opportunities for the bunkering of alternative marine fuels.
‘If you are providing to players like Maersk or other players the correct type of fuel in the correct quantity, you might be able to change the trade patterns,’ he says. ‘We need to really start telling ports now…. which type of fuel we are thinking of providing to this port, in which quantity, and how the UK is thinking of providing this different fuel. If we want to be a first mover in the transition, we need to do this.’
As part of his role as Policy Director – Environment for the UK Chamber of Shipping, Sandrelli is in regular contact with the UK Government as well as other international organisations and European bodies, about the impact policy is having on its members.
‘I make very, very clear to the government the requests from our members,’ says Sandrelli. ‘Our members are making vessels that have dual-fuel capability. We are not only talking only about fuel here, we are talking about energy like shore power, we are talking also about technology…like carbon capture. All of these can work together, and the government needs to help us to make this plan real.’
Shore power to reduce climate footprint
Shore power is seen as a key solution to reducing the shipping sector’s in-port climate footprint, however, according to Sandrelli, the UK is at a disadvantage compared with continental Europe.
‘The problem with the UK is that [compared with other European countries] the grid capacity has not been developed much and the result of that problem is how to prioritise the grid in different areas. For example, I heard during [London International] Shipping Week some ports saying they don’t have priority on the grid. If the port comes asking for shore power, they are considered at the same level as a theme park or other things.’
Sandrelli continues: ‘There should be some clear priority on how the grid evolves in the country. Another thing that can be done in the short-term…is the problem of taxation. We don’t tax heavy fuel oil; we should not tax shore power and we should not tax alternative fuels provided in ports because if we take out the taxation that helps with the cost.’
Alternative fuels will of course be at the core of shipping’s decarbonisation drive; however, questions remain over their availability. Accordingly, Sandrelli argues that carbon capture – a technology which has divided opinion in the shipping industry – will play a vital role while new fuels and infrastructure scales.
‘If we need to decarbonise in a more scalable way, we need to use any possible solution and carbon capture is for me is a good solution because we know that we will not find in port immediately green fuel,’ says Sandrelli. ‘We might start to find some grey [fuels], things like this, so carbon capture is important for us. It will also be important for us if we are not getting green fuel in the quantity that we need. The demand from shipping for green fuel will be very, very high.’
Global supply of carbon-neutral fuels
To underscore the point, Sandrelli cites DNV’s recently released Maritime Forecast to 2050 which found that shipping will require 30-40% of the estimated annual global supply of carbon-neutral fuels in order to meet the IMO’s GHG goal for 2030. This lack of fuel certainty for shipping is something which Sandrelli would like the Government to address. He points to measures introduced to support the sustainable aviation fuel industry in the UK.
‘Why are they only targeting aviation? Why can’t we have the same sustainable fuel for shipping because we also have demand?’ asks Sandrelli. ‘I come from the [shipping] industry, I was in Bibby Marine…and we were looking for biofuel for [offshore support vessel] Bibby Wavemaster 1 and when we were looking, we were not able to find it in the UK. We found HVO (Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil) in Den Helder in the Netherlands. So why can’t the UK do similar things now they are talking about sustainable aviation fuel.’
Nevertheless, Sandrelli is confident that if the Government’s Clean Maritime Plan that is expected to be published later this year takes a longer-term perspective in a ‘coherent way’, the UK will be on a good footing.
‘Decarbonisation requires a really long-term strategy, if they start discussing a long-term strategy, we will start mapping ports, we can plan to take out taxation from alternative fuels, we can plan to look to build a green corridor in a specific area. If you start to see clear plans and clear actions, it’s a very, very good thing.’
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