MSC Sees Hydrogen, Biofuels in Future Fuel Mix

Maritime Activity Reports, Inc.

October 6, 2020

© eyewave / Adobe Stock

© eyewave / Adobe Stock

Container shipping giant Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) counts biofuels and hydrogen-based fuels among options worth studying to potentially help the shipping industry meet decarbonization targets, one of the company's executive told an industry conference in Switzerland on Monday.

“There’s no one single solution to decarbonize shipping. We need a range of alternative fuels at scale and we need them urgently,” said Bud Darr, MSC Group's Executive Vice President, Maritime Policy & Government Affairs, speaking at the inaugural Maritime Transport Efficiency Conference in Geneva.

Increasingly, shipping companies are turning to cleaner-burning fuels and other emissions reducing technologies to meet the UN International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) target to halve the industry’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from 2008 levels by 2050. Swiss-based MSC is actively exploring and trialing a range of alternative fuels and technologies, and it is already actively bunkering biofuels at scale.

Better established than other alternative fuels, liquefied natural gas (LNG) remains a transitional option, while carbon capture and storage, if perfected for marine use, could be useful, Darr told the conference, which gathered shipping companies, fuel providers, academics, policy makers and representatives of the UN and Geneva government.

Bud Darr, Executive Vice President Maritime Policy & Government Affairs at MSC Group,  speaks at the Maritime Transport Efficiency Conference (Photo: MSC)

“The future of shipping and decarbonization will rely on strong partnerships from both the perspective of technology collaboration and procurement,” Darr said, adding industry partnerships could help accelerate the development of clean hydrogen for the benefit of the entire container shipping industry. Despite some significant challenges to overcome mainly related to density, volume and safe handling, MSC is in favor of further R&D efforts to produce it in a greenhouse gas neutral way and to develop it at scale, along with other fuels that may derive from it.

MSC is also pioneering the large-scale usage of biofuel blends for containerships and is already bunkering responsibly sourced, up to 30% biofuel lends on a routine basis in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Furthermore, MSC’s Gülsün Class containerships were fitted at delivery in 2019 and 2020 with the option to convert to LNG.

Darr said MSC contributes actively to the work of industry groups and associations and supports their proposal to the IMO to create a new R&D fund to support GHG reduction in the maritime sector.

MSC believes there must be a massive injection of energy and capital into R&D efforts to bring alternative fuels and alternative propulsion technologies to the marketplace to deploy and decarbonize in the longer term. The company is therefore engaging with potential vendors to investigate new solutions that would help to minimize and one day eventually eradicate CO2 and other GHG emissions from shipping fleets.

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