A technical, economic and environmental assessment of clean marine fuel options and industries for Australia (22.RP4.0126)

There are several prospective alternative marine fuels, including liquefied natural gas (LNG), hydrogen, ammonia and methanol. These different fuels can come from fossil or renewable resources and can be used in different propulsion systems. Each potential fuel supply and use chain, from the primary resource to the provision of marine propulsion, therefore performs quite differently in terms of:

– utility;
– scalability;
– cost ($/GJ);
– greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) intensity (kgCO2e/GJ); and
– the emissions of non-GHG pollutants.

Relative to conventional marine fuels, challenges of cost and utility have previously discouraged the uptake of different alternative marine fuels. However, this situation is now changing for essentially three reasons. First, customers, investors and governments are increasingly requiring improved GHG emissions from marine transport. Second, technological advancements are reducing the total costs of implementing several of these fuel chains. Finally, the health impacts of non-GHG pollution from marine transport is of increasing concern to governments, with the emissions of particulates, oxides of nitrogen and oxides of sulphur increasingly regulated.

As a result, the feasibility of establishing different fuel chains now needs careful examination. This includes considering the feasibility of their entire chains from production to use/delivery and including both the retrofit of existing ships and manufacture of new ships.

This project will examine how the adoption of different, prospective clean marine fuels will perform technically, economically and environmentally when deployed i) from today to the mid-2030s in both new and retrofitted ships and ii) from the mid-2030s to the 2050s in new ships. Both fuel carriers and non-fuel commodity carriers will be considered, along with liquefied natural gas (LNG), hydrogen, ammonia and methanol as the fuel.

Since only LNG-fuelled ships currently exist, this project is central to our understanding of what options Australia has for clean exports over the 21st century.

Partners: The University of Melbourne, Clean Marine Fuels Institute

Project Researchers: Prof Michael Brear, Prof Richard Sandberg, Dr Yi Yang

Duration: 3 years

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