Switch to LNG-powered shipping is irresponsible in times of energy crisis, T&E warns

Switch to LNG-powered shipping is irresponsible in times of energy crisis, T&E warns

Offshore energy — 2022-10-20

Maritime and Ports

In 2030, Europe’s shipping industry will need over 6.3m metric tonnes of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to power its growing fleet of gas-powered ships – enough to power 7m homes – which will only increase Europe’s dependence on fossil fuels, a new Transport and Environment (T&E) study shows.

T&E, a European umbrella for non-governmental organisations working in the field of transport and the environment, has labelled the switch to LNG as irresponsible in times of energy crisis.

“As families across Europe struggle to pay their energy bills, the shipping industry is looking for new ways to burn gas. By 2030, nearly a quarter of Europe’s shipping could be running on LNG at a time when we should be reducing our reliance on fossil fuels. This cannot be allowed to happen“, said Constance Dijkstra, LNG campaigner at T&E.

As the shipping industry and many European politicians are pushing for LNG as a ‘clean’ alternative to traditional fuels, the new study from T&E warns that Europe’s policymakers should also be worried about the impact the switch to LNG-powered shipping will have on energy security.

T&E’s analysis shows that over 200,000 households could be supplied with the gas required to power today’s fleet of LNG-powered ships. With LNG set to power a quarter of EU shipping’s energy needs in 2030, the number of households could rise to 7m – enough to heat all the homes in Belgium or Sweden.

Preventing the uptake of gas in shipping must happen now, says T&E, before all segments of the maritime industry fall into the gas trap.

“Today, tankers carrying LNG represent the biggest share of LNG-powered vessels, but other types of ships are being tempted by the gas option. In 2018, only seven LNG container ships were built. That number has more than doubled in 2022 with 171 LNG container ships on order around the world today.”

Furthermore, the study underlines that the EU is at a crucial point and can raise the climate ambition of the EU’s FuelEU Maritime proposal – the EU’s main alternative fuels law for shipping.

Stricter greenhouse gas intensity reduction targets from 2035 onwards would shorten the compliance lifetime of fossil LNG-powered ships, as proposed by the European Parliament on 19 October. Europe’s lawmakers have also voted in favour of a 2% mandate for green hydrogen-based fuels – the first of its kind.

T&E calls on the EU bodies to put these proposals into law to start the belated decarbonisation of Europe’s shipping industry.

Constance Dijkstra concluded: “With gas supplies so tight and prices so high, there’s simply no justification for shipping companies to switch to gas. It isn’t even good for the climate. The EU should ditch plans to promote fossil gas in shipping and promote green hydrogen-based fuels instead.“