LNG also has a future

There is a lot of buzz about hydrogen and ammonia as the ship fuels of the future. But do not count out LNG, said the speakers at a webinar that DNV GL arranged last week. Almost 20 percent of all new vessels ordered so far in 2021 will run on natural gas.


Today, less than one percent of the world's ships run on alternative fuels, but numbers will grow. Last year, those types of vessels accounted for 22 percent of all orders for new construction. So what will they run on? If you look at the hype and what everyone is talking about, it is easy to believe that they will run on hydrogen or possibly ammonia. But that is not the case. Not at all actually. Most of the vessels built for alternative fuels will run on LNG.

“Over the next 2-3 years, the number of LNG vessels will double and the consumption of LNG will triple or quadruple. The reason for this is that the ships being built are getting bigger”, said Christos Chryssakis, business development manager at DNV GL, at a webinar that the organization held last week.

The fact that the curve is pointing upwards for LNG is largely due to improved cost efficiency - a relatively low fuel price means that an investment in an LNG vessel break even already after 5-7 years. Of course, the climate and environmental benefits of LNG also play a role. Combustion of natural gas produces up to 25 percent lower carbon dioxide emissions than conventional ship fuels. LNG emissions also reduce emissions of air pollutants such as sulfur and nitrogen oxides.

“It is difficult to predict which fuel that will be the dominant solution after 2030. Therefore, it is important that we start using the best alternatives that exist now and that we can benefit from. And what we have is LNG and LPG.”

The disadvantage of LNG is that especially older engines leak methane during operation. Methane is a much more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, and captures 86 times more heat in the atmosphere over a 20-year period. This means that what LNG earns in smaller carbon dioxide emissions is quickly eaten up by the engines' so-called methane slip. However, the engines are getting better, Christos Chryssakis explained. Catalysts are being developed that prevent methane emissions.

“The advantage of LNG is that it can be replaced with biogas, which to some extent is already done today. Today, the supply of biogas is limited, but by 2050, production is estimated to be sufficient to supply a third of the fleet we have today.

So how much of the world fleet will go on LNG 2030? At least 20 percent, maybe more than 30, Christos Chryssakis said. A quick poll showed that the webinar's audience was on the same track. One third believed in more than 30 percent and the majority believed in more than 20 percent. If one is to believe these figures, then it seems as if LNG has a significant future in shipping.r än 30, trodde Christos Chryssakis. En snabb poll visade att webinariets publik var inne på samma bana.  En tredjedel trodde på mer än 30 procent och merparten trodde på mer än 20 procent. Ska man tro dessa siffror så verkar alltså som om LNG har en betydande framtid inom sjöfarten.