Alternative Fuels

Last Updated: Apr 2012

Current trials

Major oil companies are investing in biofuels. The development of diesel/distillate and biofuel blends could translate into bunker fuels. Authorities such as the California Air Resources Board have investigated the possibilities of biofuels. Cruise lines Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises have tests planned for jatropha oil as a stand-alone fuel and in blends with MGO. Various ferry companies have also trialled biofuel blends. Shipping giant A.P. Moller-Maersk is currently working with Boeing to develop biofuels for ships. It will also test biodiesel in one of its container ships.

In June, 2011 Ray Mabus, secretary for the US Navy reiterated that rising crude oil prices had renewed the US Navy’s resolve to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels.

The US Navy has a ten-year plan to deploy an energy efficient green fleet with ships powered by nuclear energy and biofuels. By 2020, it wants 50% of the total energy consumed by its ships, aircraft, vehicles and shore facilities to come from alternative and renewable sources.

LNG as a ship fuel has been subject to a number of studies and designs have been made for LNG bunker tankers for delivering the fuel. Classification society Germanischer Lloyd has been promoting the use of LNG by ships, saying it is both technically viable and economically feasible. Major engine manufacturers have investigated LNG engines, including for medium-sized ships. Large LNG tankers currently can use LNG in their dual-fuel engines. Norway has deployed LNG-powered ferries.




The costs of alternative fuels will vary depending on the cost of the fuels themselves as well as modifications to engines required for their use or the cost of special newbuilds. Biofuels are currently more expensive than standard bunker fuel in most cases. LNG is cheaper than distillate bunker grades but the infrastructure for LNG is sparse and is currently based around LNG shipping terminals. On October 1, 2010 the price of LNG was at one fourth to one third the price of marine gas oil.

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