Debating Decarbonisation

Transit to a Lower Carbon Future


Thomas S. Hansen
Thomas S. Hansen
MAN Energy Solutions

19 February 2019

Transit to a Lower Carbon Future

With the increased focus on sustainability, climate change and the role companies play in protecting the environment, MAN Energy Solutions is conscious that it needs to address the issue of emissions and optimise its environmental impact.

The Paris Climate Agreement defined the framework for global CO2-reduction and set the goal of limiting global warming to a 1.5°C temperature rise. Ultimately, all branches of industry and transport, etc. must be decarbonised by 2050.

Despite shipping being recognised as the most efficient mode of transport, the international shipping sector has a special responsibility because of its projected CO2 growth rates of 50-250% by 2050, depending on future economic growth (based on an IMO GHG Study from 2014).

IMO member states began the development of a road map in 2017 to reduce CO2 emissions in line with the ambitious spirit of the Paris Agreement; the IMO intends to have final measures in place by 2023.

Dr Uwe Lauber, CEO of MAN Energy Solutions, has previously stated: “The path to decarbonising the maritime economy starts with fuel decarbonisation, especially in container shipping.” Speaking at the COP23 climate meeting in Bonn in 2017 where the shipping industry held its own summit, Lauber said: “Bonn offers us a new opportunity to accelerate what MAN Energy Solutions calls the ‘Maritime Energy Transition’, the move to cleaner technology within our industry. Ultimately, uniform environmental standards must be established at international level – a strong IMO as an international regulator is therefore essential.”

The Maritime Energy Transition

The term ‘Maritime Energy Transition’ stems from the German expression Energiewende and encapsulates MAN Energy Solutions’ call to action to reduce emissions and establish natural gas as the fuel of choice in global shipping.

The company offers a number of alternative drive technologies, including hybrid drives, in order to further reduce the share of heavy-fuel engines in shipping traffic, among other applications but, primarily, the transition in question promotes a global ‘turn to gas’, driven by the IMO, and a common approach by the shipping industry and politics to invest in infrastructure development and retrofits. Launched in 2016 after COP 21, the initiative has since found broad support within the shipping industry and German politics.

The central tenets of the Maritime Energy Transition fit with the focus of MAN Energy Solutions’engine portfolio that has altered course toward a dual-fuel direction over the past number of years, and with significant success.

The development of the two-stroke ME-GI (-Gas Injection)/ME-LGI (-Liquid Gas Injection) engine portfolio to enable dual-fuel operation on such low-carbon, gaseous and liquid fuels as LNG (methane), LPG, ethane, methanol and ethanol.

To date, MAN Energy Solutions’ entire portfolio of dual-fuel engines has won almost 400 projects in total, all running on clean fuels and testament to its leadership within this critical market segment.

The Wes Amelie retrofit

The Maritime Energy Transition is also an umbrella covering all MAN Energy Solutions activities in regard to supporting a decarbonised shipping industry with a key moment to date being the retrofitting of Wessels Reederei’s ‘Wes Amelie’ feeder containership’s four-stroke MAN 51/60DF engine to dual-fuel gas operation – the first such conversion of its type in the world.

Stemming from the success of the ‘Wes Amelie’ project, and to encourage more shipowners to follow Wessels Reederei’s example, MAN Energy Solutions has since pledged discounts for 10 such LNG-retrofits, most recently at the 4th annual Naftemporiki Shipping Conference, held in Athens on October 3rd, 2018.

Wayne Jones OBE, Chief Sales Officer and Member of the Executive Board, represented MAN Energy Solutions in Athens and participated in a panel discussion on decarbonisation, the latest fuels introduced to the market, and the impact of the impending IMO regulations, among other matters.

He said: “From the engine-maker’s point of view, one of the biggest challenges is to reach agreement on which fuel to use, one that will meet not only the regulations of today, but those of tomorrow. What will everyone use in the future or will there be a myriad of fuels? For me, the only way forward is to go with gaseous [gas-derived] fuels – and the infrastructure will follow in due course.”

The Diesel principle

While MAN Energy Solutions continuously investigates alternative fuel technologies, there appears to be no doubt but that internal-combustion engineering is going to stick around for a while yet.

Bjarne Foldager – Senior Vice President, Head of Two-Stroke Business at MAN Energy Solutions – says: “I know diesel is not the politically correct term to use these days, but if you look at diesel as a combustion principle, it is the most efficient principle that exists today. The main propulsion will still come from a propulsion unit, and when we compare the different technologies, we basically come to the conclusion that the internal combustion engine is by far the most efficient. This is the technology that we will focus on for the foreseeable future,” he said.

Foldager also states that picking the right fuel for the right technology is key, and points to the elimination of methane slip when LNG is burned in two-stroke engines.

Gas-derived decarbonisation

In terms of gas-derived fuels, LNG is of particular interest. In this respect, MAN Energy Solutions recently joined SEA/LNG, the multi-sector, shipping-industry coalition created to accelerate the widespread adoption of LNG as a marine fuel with a vision of a competitive, global, LNG value-chain for cleaner maritime shipping.

MAN Energy Solutions recognises that sharing knowledge from its own area of expertise is crucial in promoting LNG in the future and sees dual-fuel engines burning LNG as an obvious vehicle for decarbonisation – as well as significant reductions in SOx, NOx and particulate matter.

Stefan Eefting, Senior Vice President – MAN Energy Solutions – and Head of MAN PrimeServ, Augsburg, says: “In terms of two-stroke engines, the introduction of our ME-GI dual-fuel, two-stroke engine to the market a number of years ago was a seminal moment for us and pointed the path to a decarbonised future within the low-speed sector. The negligible methane slip of the ME-GI engine when burning LNG makes it the most environmentally friendly, two-stroke technology available.”

Eefting continues: “The ME-GI engine alone has already gathered multiple references among LNG carriers, container vessels, and bulk carriers, and this success has contributed positively to the development of LNG infrastructure. In this respect, we are, for example, currently anticipating the imminent arrival of LNG bunker barges on the US west coast that will further support dual-fuel operation. This is just one of several, encouraging market signs that suggest that LNG will continue to thrive as a fuel.”

Apropos of this, American shipping company TOTE Maritime – an early adopter of the ME-GI engine – is playing a leading role in the expansion of LNG infrastructure in Florida with JAX LNG, its LNG supplier, currently constructing a state-of-the-art LNG facility near Jacksonville. While the company’s dual-fuel ships have safely bunkered LNG through a truck-to-ship process since launch, the new facility – upon completion – will represent the first, small-scale, coastal LNG facility in North America that offers ship-to-ship and barge-to-ship bunkering.

In conclusion

In April 2018, IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee adopted an initial strategy on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from ships, setting out its vision to reduce GHG emissions from international shipping and to phase them out as quickly as possible in this century.

Bjarne Foldager says: “MAN Energy Solutions is very supportive of IMO’s initial strategy on greenhouse gas emissions. With these ambitious targets, I think shipping has a great opportunity to improve its reputation as the most environmentally friendly form of transportation that exists.”