Survey: Shipping reliant on e-fuels to meet climate goals

Renewable energy will be more important to shipping’s climate goals than any other fuel feedstock, according to a survey of 200 maritime decision-makers based in Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and Spain. The “E-Fuels in the Shipping Industry” survey, conducted by market researcher mo’web and commissioned by Accelleron, was developed to identify the potential and some key challenges that ship owners and operators face as they deploy alternative fuels to meet industry climate neutrality targets by 2050.

The survey showed:

E-fuels in shipping Source: Accelleron
  • Roughly 93% of companies surveyed see fuels made using renewable electricity, or e-fuels, as making a “decisive contribution to more sustainable shipping.” A similar number (92%) said e-fuels can make a significant contribution to reducing shipping’s global CO2 emissions, outstripping biofuels (69%), LNG (60%), fossil-derived hydrogen (52%) and fossil fuels combined with carbon capture (32%).
  • 44% of respondents expect availability of e-fuels to remain poor before 2030, although most were confident that supply concerns will be addressed by 2050. To improve availability, more than half (58%) called for government incentives and subsidies for e-fuel production. Four out of 10 shipping companies also complained about insufficient regulatory framework conditions and a lack of political support for the introduction of e-fuels.
  • 82% of respondents view implementation of e-fuels in shipping as technically complex. In addition to lack of availability (46%), high switching costs (50%) and infrastructural problems (43%) are the most frequently cited obstacles.
  • Two-thirds of the companies surveyed currently see a competitive advantage in the use of e-fuels, and almost half indicated they have plans to invest in e-fuel use. Sixty percent cited retrofitting existing ships to run on alternative fuels as the best medium-term strategy for decarbonization, and 36% are already planning technical retrofits for their ships.
  • 41% of shipping companies said they are looking for strategic partnerships with e-fuel providers.
  • Three-quarters of companies surveyed expect to be unable to do without e-fuels by 2045 at the latest, given shipping’s stringent 2050 target and the role e-fuels are expected to play in achieving that goal.

“Our survey highlights the great potential of e-fuels for the future of shipping, but we are only at the beginning,” said Daniel Bischofberger, CEO of Accelleron. “The cross-sector focus in the industry and among legislators must now quickly shift to building the right infrastructure for better availability and the right government incentives to achieve long-term cost parity between fossil fuels and e-fuels.”


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