World-first marine trial of carbon-neutral synthetic natural gas

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In what has been claimed a ‘world first’ for the marine industry, the Unifeeder-operated ship ‘ElbBlue’ has this week set off on trial voyage fuelled by liquefied SNG 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 EC 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 emissions at 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 tonnes SNG and 20 tonnes conventional LNG, the ‘ElbBlue’ is expected to save approximately 56 tonnes of carbon output on its coming voyage to St. Petersburg, as opposed to operating on 100% LNG.

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.

“This is a great opportunity to showcase new fuel technology and we are proud to be at the forefront of this exciting development,” commented Timm Niebergall, Shortsea Director Unifeeder. “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.”

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

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