MSC sees hydrogen and biofuels in future fuel mix

Written by Nick Blenkey
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Bud Darr, Executive Vice President Maritime Policy & Government Affairs at MSC Group, makes keynote address a Maritime Transport Efficiency Conference.

Container shipping giant MSC (Mediterranean Shipping Company) is looking at hydrogen and fuels derived from it as a possible fuel source for the future. Meantime, it is increasingly pioneering the use of biofuels by its existing fleet.

Speaking on October 5 at the inaugural Maritime Transport Efficiency Conference in Geneva, Switzerland, where MSC is headquartered, MSC Group’s Bud Darr outlined some preferred options in a keynote speech on decarbonization and during a panel discussion on fuels for the future.

“There’s no one single solution to decarbonize shipping; we need a range of alternative fuels at scale and we need them urgently,” said Darr who is executive vice president, Maritime Policy & Government Affairs at MSC Group. “The future of shipping and decarbonization will rely on strong partnerships from both the perspective of technology collaboration and procurement.”

MSC says it is actively exploring and trialling a range of alternative fuels and technologies and is already actively bunkering biofuels at scale. Fossil-sourced LNG remains a transitional option, while carbon capture and storage, if perfected for marine use, could be useful, Darr told the conference.

Industry partnerships could help accelerate the development of clean hydrogen for the benefit of the entire container shipping industry. Despite some significant challenges to overcome mainly related to density, volume and safe handling, MSC is in favor of further R&D efforts to produce it in a GHG-neutral way and to develop it at scale, along with other fuels that may derive from it.

MSC is also pioneering the large-scale usage of biofuel blends for containerships and is already bunkering responsibly sourced, up to 30% biofuel lends on a routine basis in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Furthermore, the world’s largest class of containerships, MSC’s Gülsün Class, was fitted at delivery in 2019-20 with the option to convert in future to liquefied natural gas (LNG) as a potential bridging fuel as part of the industry’s transition towards a zero-carbon future.

MSC says it contributes actively to the work of industry groups and associations and supports their proposal to the IMO to create a new R&D fund to support GHG reduction in the maritime sector.

MSC believes there must be a massive injection of energy and capital into R&D efforts to bring alternative fuels and alternative propulsion technologies to the marketplace and is engaging with potential vendors to investigate new solutions that would help to minimize and, one day, eventually eradicate CO2 and other GHG emissions from shipping fleets.

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