Global warming and international shipping. The costs of decarbonisation.


Currently, the shipping world is focussed on bunkers, and in particular the adaptations required following the introduction of the 0.5% Sulphur Cap on 1 January 2020. However, bunkers are also going to feature high on the list of possible ways of meeting the IMO’s target of reducing reducing carbon emissions from shipping by at least 50% by 2050 over 2008 levels. A new study by UMAS and the Energy Transitions Commission for the Global Maritime Forum for the Getting to Zero Coalition costs the scale of cumulative investment needed between 2030 and 2050 to achieve the IMO target at approximately USD 0.8-1.2 trillion, or on average between USD 40- 60 billion annually for 20 years.

However, if the target is raised to decarbonisation by 2050, the study estimates extra investments would be needed of approximately USD 400 billion over 20 years, making the total investments needed between USD 1.2-1.6 trillion dollars. The estimate is based on ammonia (NH3) as the primary zero carbon replacement fuel  adopted by the shipping industry and although other fuels such as hydrogen and synthetic methanol, may compete with ammonia, their investment costs will not significantly change from those of ammonia.

The biggest share of this extra investment, 87%, will be in the on shore infrastructure and production facilities for low carbon fuels, with hydrogen production making up around half of this, and ammonia synthesis and storage and bunkering the other half. 13% will relate to ships include the machinery and onboard storage required for a ship to run on ammonia both in newbuild ships and, in some cases, for retrofits, and will include investments in improving energy efficiency, estimated to be higher due to the higher fuel costs of ammonia compared to traditional marine fuels.

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