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The future of maritime fuels

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Charley Rattan's picture
Global Hydrogen Trainer & Advisor, Charley Rattan Associates

Charley Rattan, Training, advising and informing the global energy transition. Charley heads Charley Rattan Associates, a team of seasoned trainers and advisors driving forwards the energy...

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  • Sep 17, 2023

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The future of maritime fuels

Key findings

Current fuel mix projections fall into two broad categories:

1. Hydrogen-based fuels scenarios – in which hydrogen-based fuels have a greater share by 2050.

2. Biofuels-based fuels scenarios – in which biofuels have a greater share by 2050. The review of the existing scenarios reveals the promising potential of both bio-based fuels and hydrogen-based fuels according to the existing literature. However, the most promising fuel faces distinct opportunities and challenges that require careful attention for successful adoption. This examination of the key projections1 within these two categories of scenarios uncovers the following: Among hydrogen-based fuels scenarios: • Combined blue and e-ammonia capture between 20% and 60% of the market by 2050 with an average share of 46%. • E-ammonia emerges as the most highly adopted maritime fuel in the long term – on average the market share of e-ammonia is 35% in 2050. However, there is a large variation across the scenarios because of the different assumptions on future prices and the ability to scale fuel infrastructure at the required pace. Most of the scenarios provide a range between 20% and 50% of the market, while the most optimistic outlier scenario projects a market share for e-ammonia of approximately 80% by 2050. • The average shares translate into considerable energy demands. For example, total consumption of blue and e-ammonia increases on average from 0.79 EJ in 2030 to 6.06 EJ in 2050, making the shipping industry the largest user of ammonia relative to other sectors (such as fertiliser and power generation). Current global ammonia production is

3.4 EJ, although this is primarily for the fertiliser market and derived from fossil fuels. • As an order of magnitude, the hydrogen required to supply ammonia for the shipping industry could represent 3.7%-7 % of the expected total global hydrogen demand in 2030 and reach up to 8.3%-17.5 % in 2050. While there is little concern about the technical potential to produce hydrogen given the abundance of renewable energy sources (technical potential for hydrogen supply estimated to be 10,000 EJ), one of the key supply challenges is the ability to scale production at the required pace. Demand for clean hydrogen is still low across all sectors and if expected demands materialise at the same time, there could be potential competition among sectors. • If the shipping industry becomes the largest user of clean ammonia, it will need to drive most of the development for the supply infrastructure and show leadership in securing the adequate scaling of the supply


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