The future or a fantasy?
The global shipping industry is one of the most polluting in the world, with the International Maritime Organization reporting that the industry emits around 940 million tonnes of CO2 per year, making it responsible for around 2.5% global greenhouse gas emissions. (From 3rd IMO GHG study.)
These statistics have been discussed time and again by government officials, with discussions about how they can be reduced, either through the implementation of regulations or through vessel design guidelines.
During London International Shipping Week, UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps called for an absolute zero target for international shipping emissions as well as the introduction of zero-emission ships into UK waters by five years. During the event, Shapps commented: ‘Acting now allows us to lead the charge of this global change, creating highly skilled jobs for British workers and shaping the landscape of what a shipping and trading will look like. clean for future generations. “
Although the target would see the industry’s contribution to emissions drop significantly, there is debate surrounding the feasibility of this call when considering the existing infrastructure that is in place as well as the availability of clean fuels.
Frankie Youd (FY): Could you give me some information about Unitrove and what work is being done?
Steven Lua (SL): The company was founded in 2008, the background of the company traditionally validated by specializing in liquefied natural gas (LNG) technologies, natural gas technologies. The company has focused heavily on decarbonization technologies involved in heavy trucks, designing and building refueling stations for trucks and trucks.
In 2015, we were asked to build an LNG bunkering facility for the Teesside region. This was the UK’s first LNG bunkering facility and our first company refueling ships with alternative fuels. It was quite interesting at that time because we realized that the size and scale of the ships were on a different scale than the trucks. At this point, we started to think about the possibility of reconsidering how to decarbonize ships rather than how many thousands of trucks we would have to do.
The company plans to deliver the world’s first liquid hydrogen bunkering facility, how does it work and what does it entail?
It’s modeled very similar to the one we developed for Teesside, except rather than being for LNG, it’s for liquid hydrogen. This is what I would call a “nanoscale module”, or an infrastructure module.
It’s relatively small, no more than a few feet long and a few feet wide – it’s not a massive factory as many people tend to think, no big concrete foundations. We are trying to reduce the infrastructure as much as possible. The idea is that it would be an interface between the refueling vessels and the fuel containers. They will be brought to the jetty and connected to the box, then when unloaded, those containers will disappear.
Once the refueling is complete the tankers are disconnected and taken away which on the port side is great as it means they don’t have to store flammable product at the jetty.
Do you think the industry is on track to meet the UK government’s zero emissions and green ship target?
The one from the UK government is quite interesting, I watched Rachel Maclean get grilled by a panel on the transport decarbonization plan, and through that they touched on all the different modes of transport. What’s quite interesting – from my perspective – is the way the government has handled shipping and aviation, they say the focus is mostly on domestic emissions.
Now if you start to say that we’re only going to start putting domestic as a priority right now, emissions from domestic aviation or emissions from domestic shipping, then you’re really eliminating a lot of the problem. Most people when they fly are traveling overseas, rather than traveling within the country and similarly with shipping, the worst pollutants are those traveling overseas.
In that regard, it makes it a lot easier for them when they say, “Okay, we’re going to focus on domestic emissions,” and then they’ll say it’s a very, very small fraction of total transportation emissions. If they saw it that way, they might say, “It’s very easy for us to decarbonize this tiny slice of the pie and we will focus on converting all of the ships that we have in service in the country so that we can get it right. ‘they run on electricity or maybe hydrogen. . “It certainly makes it easier for them.
I don’t think this really addresses the real problem which is international shipping. This is the part where I’m a little skeptical as to whether this is going to happen or not and how far they will go with it.
Where do you think the industry should focus its attention to make this change?
“If we don’t put the infrastructure in place by the mid-2030s, I think we get very stuck. “
If we’re just talking about maritime, there’s a lot of attention, at least from the government side, just on the ship side and the idea that we’re going to build the next generation of clean ships and that much of the funding has gone towards that. There has not been as much travel or reflection on the infrastructure, how are we going to be able to supply these ships. If we don’t put the infrastructure in place by the mid-2030s, I think we’ll be very stuck. Are we going to be confident that we will be able to achieve these goals?
I personally think the maritime sector is at the bottom of the scale in terms of decarbonising transport. Most of the time people get the narrative with cars, trains and planes and all of that is in the public eye, whereas shipping is not. I think for that reason as well, it’s not necessarily a vote winner.
The government then focuses on issues that appear to be the winning vote type of problems and perhaps making announcements such as, “We are going to invest in the next generation of clean autonomous vessels” and “We are going to create new jobs. and bring shipbuilding back to the UK. It’s a narrative that fits the agenda pretty well, but to kind of say, “We’re going to deploy zero-emission infrastructure” that doesn’t quite have the same kind of sound clips, so I think that’s definitely something that needs a lot of attention.
If we then look at hydrogen and green hydrogen, there is a big obsession right now with producing green hydrogen, which is great because it can go into all kinds of industries. However, I think there is a lack of reflection between what is produced at the end of this production process and having that green hydrogen in a format suitable for marine fuels. The fuels have to either be compressed to a very high pressure, or in our case we are looking at liquefying the hydrogen – just having low pressure hydrogen from a production plant is not good. for any vehicle.
What would you like the future to have in store for the industry?
I think maritime transport needs to change, especially when it comes to transparency, I think that’s sort of the starting point. I think that’s quite fascinating when you listen to the government sound bites of “net zero by 2050” or “we have to do all we can over the next 30 years to achieve our goals”, then, in noting that much of the attention is on what the public can see, such as cars. They talk about electrifying cars, then trucks coming, then planes and trains or trains, then planes, then shipping at the bottom of the agenda – or at least that’s what I sort of see.
I think there is a lack of transparency in the industry, I know this is changing now, but because of this lack of transparency, it means that if we look at the IMO goals, their ambition is only d ‘reach 50% of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, not all 100% of emissions by 2050. What they are saying is that we are only going to reduce by 50% of ‘by 2050, so other industries will have to do more than they’re supposed to. Shipping can’t think it’s somehow different from all these other industries.
Another problem is that some people only watch their own national shows and never take responsibility for international shows – no one wants to take responsibility for that part in between. Whenever people have tried to provide solutions to IMO, they are often shot down or diluted, and then it becomes very difficult. I think this needs to be taken into account and looked at.