OGCI study finds biofuels can help decarbonize shipping as part of a range of low-carbon solutions

A beautiful sunset over a biomass factory.
Credit: iStock

Biofuels have potential to support decarbonization in the international shipping industry as part of a range of solutions and low-carbon technologies, according to a new study by the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative (OGCI).

A number of different solutions and technologies are being researched to enable the industry to meet its target to halve its greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 compared with a baseline of 2008. OGCI, with its memberships’ knowledge of the fuels sector, undertook the study as part of a broader commitment to support decarbonization in hard-to-abate sectors. The initiative has also partnered with the shipping industry on feasibility studies into marine carbon capture.  

Michael Traver, Head of the Transport Workstream at OGCI, said: “This study into biofuel use in shipping is another important piece of knowledge for an industry that has set itself ambitious decarbonization goals. “Through studies and demonstration projects of this type, the OGCI is bringing knowledge from the energy sector to the shipping sector to help decarbonise this hard-to-abate sector.”

The study evaluated the sustainability and availability of biomass, economics and potential barriers to use that could impact the potential use of biofuels in the international shipping industry. The report highlights the complexity of biomass availability and the large number of factors and assumptions which determine it, including;

  • Without greater biomass mobilization, such as legislative support and infrastructure building, feedstock availability for marine biofuel could be constrained by 2050.
  • A lack of legislative support for biofuel use in the marine sector means that there will not be significant volumes of biomass for marine fuel use, and will instead be funnelled for use in the road and aviation sectors.
  • However, the study also showed that with greater legislative backing and building of infrastructure, there is sufficient biomass available for marine fuel use, even when accounting for competition from other sectors such as construction and aviation.
  • This demonstrates the importance of support in providing sufficient feedstock for all segments of transportation.
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