Trafigura, T&E and DFDS Ask EU to Support Ammonia and Hydrogen

EU Green Deal for shipping
European Commission headquarters (file photo)

Published Mar 5, 2021 7:56 PM by The Maritime Executive

Leading shipping companies formed an unusual coalition with a fuel trader and an environmental NGO to express their support for the EU’s green initiatives on maritime fuels. In a letter to the European Commission, they expressed with support for the goals of the European Green Deal for shipping, notably the objectives to deploy sustainable alternative marine fuels/energy via a dedicated FuelEU Maritime initiative.

In the letter addressed to Executive Vice-President Frans Timmermans and the commissioners for transport and energy, the companies express their support for green hydrogen and ammonia as the best solutions for shipping to meet its goals for decarbonization and contribute to the EU’s reaching carbon neutrality by 2050. “In order to deliver a sustainable, scalable and cost-effective green transition for maritime transport,” the letter says the companies, “call on the European Commission to stimulate within the framework of the FuelEU Maritime initiative the deployment of green hydrogen and ammonia for shipping.”

Developing and deploying sustainable green fuels for shipping present enormous economic and employment opportunities. They however point out that the production of green hydrogen and ammonia for shipping will require as much as $1.7 trillion in capital investments globally.

“Well-crafted EU shipping legislation will contribute to overcoming the current economic challenges facing Europe,” they with the EC Commissioners. “As representatives of these industries, fuel and technology manufacturers, and civil society, we are prepared to contribute to a robust and effective legislative outcome.”

The coalition signing the letter is equally significant as what they are calling for from the commissioners. The shipping companies include CMB, DFDS, Torvald Klaveness, and Viking, as well as Lloyd’s Register and Hydrogen Europe. Representing the fuel industry, Trafigura, one of the largest traders, signs the letter alongside Transport & Environment, an NGO that has been outspoken in its campaigning for cleaner transport in Europe.

The letter acknowledges the important role the shipping industry will need to play in reaching net zero while saying that not all of the potential alternative fuels for shipping are as promising to meet the decarbonization goals without creating additional harm to the environment.  Crop-based biofuels they believe are more damaging than fossil fuels. While acknowledging that some advanced biofuels could provide emissions reductions, they believe they are limited in sustainable bio-feedstock availability. 

“Therefore, the solutions, to be stimulated by the FuelEU maritime initiative, need to be sought among technologies that can be both sustainable and scalable.” They express the opinion that green hydrogen and ammonia provide such a solution as they can deliver zero-carbon propulsion and can be produced in virtually unlimited quantities. 

While they believe that the costs can be reduced with economies of scale, they write to the EC to express their concern that these fuels are currently very expensive compared to fossil fuels. “To justify large investments in electrolyzers and ammonia plants, European maritime fuel policy needs to send a clear demand signal for the potential investors by focusing on these green fuels and their relevant propulsion technologies.”

The FuelEU Maritime proposals are expected to be presented by the European Commission next month as the EU moves forward with its policies for the European Green Deal.