World-First Marine Trial of Carbon-Neutral Sythetic Natural Gas Conducted on Unifeeder Vessel

Today, in a world first for the marine industry, Unifeeder-operated ship ‘ElbBlue’ was fuelled with liquefied SNG for a trial voyage in a major boost for the shipping industry’s efforts to reduce its carbon emissions. 

The liquefied SNG, produced at Kiwi’s Power-to-Gas facility in Werlte, Germany is a synthetic form of LNG that is carbon-neutral and generated from 100% renewable energy.

With the European Commission releasing a proposal this year requiring the shipping industry to reduce emissions to net-zero by 2050, the development and testing of revolutionary energy sources such as liquefied SNG is an important step in carbon reduction for the industry.

The trial comes as Unifeeder, owned by global end-to-end logistics firm DP World, has launched its Actual Emission Tracker, a tool that allows for users to calculate greenhouse gas emissionsat the specific TEU level.

The Actual Emission Tracker gives companies further insight into the carbon impact of their activity, assisting with the measurement tools required to track and reduce carbon emissions.

With a blend of 20 tons SNG and 20 tons conventional LNG, the ‘ElbBlue’ is expected to save approximately 56 tons of carbon output on its coming voyage to St. Petersburg, as opposed to operating on 100% LNG.

With the largest feeder and shortsea network globally, Unifeeder Group vessels operate across Europe, Middle East, Indian Subcontinent and South East Asia.

In 2017, the ‘ElbBlue’ – then named ‘Wes Amelie’ – was retrofitted as dual-fuel engine made by MAN Energy Solutions to be able to operate on LNG. MAN Energy Solutions reports that the retrofitted engine reduces SOx emissions by >99%, NOx by approximately 90%, and CO2 by up to 20% basis conventional LNG.

To mark the significance of the trial, an event was held in the port of Brunsbüttel, near Hamburg, Germany. Prominent guests expected to attend included Mr. Jan Philipp Albrecht, Minister for Energy Transition, Agriculture, Environment, Nature and Digitalization of the state of Schleswig-Holstein, Mr. Norbert Brackmann, MdB, Maritime Coordinator of the Federal Government and Dr. Uwe Lauber, CEO MAN Energy Solutions.

Should the trial be successful, it is hoped that renewable SNG and dual-fuel engines can be used to reduce the shipping industry’s carbon output.

Jesper Kristensen, CEO Unifeeder and COO DP World Marine Services, said: “The launch of Unifeeder’s SNG trial in conjunction with our project partners is a thrilling and timely.

Development for our business as our industry continues to seek ways to reduce carbon output to meet customer, business and environmental policy demands.

“A successful trial voyage will complement our environmental initiatives across Europe, such as our investment in more efficient rail and barge inland services, as well as our ongoing sustainability ambitions at our terminals across Europe. And with the launch of Actual Emission Tracker by Unifeeder, we are seeking to provide our customers with the tools and options that help them to measure output and make lower carbon supply chain choices.”

Timm Niebergall, Shortsea Director Unifeeder, said: “This is a great opportunity to showcase new fuel technology and we are proud to be at the forefront of this exciting development. As the leading operator of feeder and shortsea services in Europe and around the globe, the future availability of green(er) fuels is essential. Our customers in Europe and beyond are expecting innovative solutions for improving our, and thereby also their, carbon footprint. In short, synthetic LNG is an exciting product and we are therefore very proud to be the first operator testing this new fuel on one of our vessels.”

Stefan Eefting – Senior Vice President and Head of MAN PrimeServ, Augsburg –said:“This is a crucial step on the road to decarbonising shipping. In reducing or even eliminating future emissions generated by the global supply-chain, synthetic fuels and engine retrofits have a crucial role to play. While a retrofit instantly reduces a ship’s emission-levels, synthetic fuels like SNG can enable it to run 100% climate-neutrally. Today, we are demonstrating that any LNG-retrofitted ship can also run on fuels generated by power-to-X technology, and even as a mix of fuels depending on availability.”

Unifeeder, MAN Energy Solutions and vessel owner Elbdeich Reederei have partnered on the trial over the last two years, with all firms involved aiming to further advance carbon reduction efforts in the maritime shipping sector.


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