According to a new white paper published by Imperial College London, targets in the shipping industry for the reduction of dangerous emissions cannot be achieved using natural gas alone.
The International Maritime Organization (IMO) is aiming to halve the level of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions produced by ships before 2050, while the road freight industry is expected to pursue similar reductions.
Written by academics from Imperial’s Sustainable Gas Institute, and the University of British Columbia’s Clean Energy Research Centre, the paper focuses on the potential benefits of using natural gas for ship and truck fuel.
Alistair Williamson discusses energy and the logistics chain in a recent Port Technology technical paper
Using natural gas to fuel vehicles and ships is a more efficient than diesel, releasing less carbon, and is also less expensive to implement than advanced battery electric or hydrogen fuel cell systems.
However, the report also highlights that some natural gases leak as they travel through the supply chain, reducing the benefit of switching fuel and releasing more damaging emissions into the atmosphere.
In addition to this, the benefits of switching to natural gas as a transport fuel will not be enough to reach the IMO’s long-term emissions targets.
Dr. Jamie Speirs, Imperial College London, said: “The greenhouse gas benefits of natural gas as a transport fuel are useful in the short term, but must be coupled with additional energy efficiency measures and longer term plans that include much lower carbon truck and ship technologies.”
Dr. Marc Stettler, of Imperial’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, added: “To achieve fewer emissions, we need a mix of technologies including electric vehicles for short urban routes, electrification of long-haul operations and more efficient logistics processes.”