Prussi, Matteo, Nicolae Scarlat, Michele Acciaro and Vasileios Kosmas

Potential and limiting factors in the use of alternative fuels in the European maritime sector

Journal of Cleaner Production (291), (2021).

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Abstract: The maritime sector is a key asset for the world economy, but its environmental impact represents a major concern. The sector is primarily supplied with Heavy Fuel Oil, which results in high pollutant emissions. The sector has set targets for deacrbonisation, and alternative fuels have been identified as a short-to medium-term option. The paper addresses the complexity related to the activities of the maritime industry, and discusses the possible contribution of alternative fuels. A sector segmentation is proposed to define the consumption of each sub-segment, so to compare it with the current alternative fuel availability at European level. The paper shows that costs and GHG savings are fundamental enablers for the uptake of alternative fuels, but other aspects are also crucial: technical maturity, safety regulation, expertise needed, etc. The demand for alternative fuels has to be supported by an existing, reliable infrastructure, and this is not yet the case for many solutions (i.e. electricity, hydrogen or methanol). Various options are already available for maritime sector, but the future mix of fuels used will depend on technology improvements, availability, costs and the real potential for GHG emissions reduction.

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