Spanish shipping company Baleària, a champion of liquefied natural gas (LNG) as a marine fuel, proudly claims to have achieved CO2 emission reductions of 1,300 tons since the installation of an auxiliary natural gas engine on the passenger ship Abel Matutes de Baleària in 2017.
According to data compiled by Baleària and Naturgy between June 2017 and October 2018, the use of this auxiliary engine also meant a very significant reduction in pollutant emissions harmful to health. Specifically, the reduction in CO2 emissions was around 1,300 tonnes while NOx emissions were almost 20 tonnes. The reduction of SOx emissions was close to two tons and the reduction of particle emissions was almost total.
The president of Baleària, Adolfo Utor, pointed out Baleària’s commitment to an eco-efficient fleet is reflected in smart ships propelled by natural gas. “In addition to this pilot project, which we value very positively, the shipping company already has two ships sailing with LNG, two new constructions and the remotorization of five more ships. In this sense, the ferry Abel Matutes will be the next to sail completely with this clean energy.”
Utor also highlighted Baleària’s conviction to use LNG and contribute to the fight against climate change.
“The results obtained in this study and related to safety, efficiency, reduction of emissions and noise, as well as fuel consumption, among others, have been better than expected”, explained Vicente Gramuntell, Director of Iberia Operations at Naturgy, during the presentation of the main conclusions of the initiative. “Our collaboration with Baleària is another example of the importance of defining and designing feasible and innovative technological solutions for the generation of clean auxiliary energy.”
Other data collected in the analysis of the period include aspects of the installation of the new natural gas engine and its use linked to safety in operation, reliability of the installation, efficiency, economic indicators as well as emissions and noise.
The initiative led by Balèaria and Naturgy is part of the Cleanport project, the objective of which is to demonstrate the viability of an alternative and clean energy generation system in the maritime sector, all in line with the European Directive on the implementation of an infrastructure for alternative fuels and the 2012/33/EU Directive on the sulphur content of marine fuels.
The president of the Port of Barcelona, Mercé Conesa, remarked that the Catalan facility has become the first port in the Mediterranean to supply LNG to a ferry on a regular and continuous basis. “Air quality is a priority for the Port of Barcelona and the promotion of liquefied natural gas as an alternative fuel for ships and trucks is precisely a strategic axis of our Air Quality Improvement Plan. CleanPort demonstrates not only that LNG as a bunker fuel is economically viable, but that it translates into a very significant reduction in pollutant emissions.
The project, co-financed by the European Union through the CEF-Transport programme, also involves the ports of Barcelona and the Balearic Islands and the Directorate General of the Merchant Marine. The initiative, which was born in 2014, sought to define a feasible and innovative technological solution for the generation of clean auxiliary energy in stops and approaches to the port as well as to facilitate the bunkering of Liquefied Natural Gas and Natural Gas in the Port of Barcelona that would allow a mobile and safe solution on land to carry out the loads to the ship and thus contribute to the harmonization of the rules and regulations for bunkering in ports.
Among the different indicators analysed in the study, system reliability, efficiency, improved emissions, noise reduction, fuel consumption, maintenance costs and LNG refuelling times, among others, were better than expected.
Apart from emissions reduction, the project participants remarked that in terms of the cost of maintenance of the gas installation there were no additional costs compared to those of a diesel system.
On the other hand, significant fuel savings were recorded as well as significant reductions in the ship’s port charges when applying the environmental bonuses foreseen for operating with the auxiliary natural gas engine in the port.
Natural gas key to decarbonising maritime transport
Transport is one of the key sectors for mitigating global warming, as it is one of the most polluting and a major emitter of CO2. In this sense, natural gas fuel, both in its use as compressed natural gas (CNG) for light transport and as liquefied natural gas (LNG) for ships and heavy transport, is called to occupy an important place among transport fuels of the futuredue to its many advantages.
The use of LNG as a marine fuel has advantages for the environment compared to the diesel engine it replaces: it reduces ambient noise by about 20%, CO2 emissions by more than 20%, NOx emissions by more than 80% and SOx emissions by more than 90%.
In addition to the more than 130 ships around the world currently running on natural gas as fuel, there is a backlog of 125 new orders up to 2025. The world fleet propelled by LNG is increasing at a rate of between 15% and 25% a year, so if the trend continues in the same vein, in 2025 there could be a world fleet of between 300 and 600 ships. It is estimated that 22% of total bunkering consumption will be LNG by 2035.
Naturgy is a Spanish multinational gas and electricity company.