BENEFITS OF LNG AND DUAL-FUEL ENGINES
In today’s economy, it is becoming increasingly clear that LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) as a marine fuel is an idea whose time has come, both in terms of reduced emissions (nitrogen oxide, carbon dioxide, sulfur oxide and particulate matter) and in terms of operating costs since the LNG prices are very low.
With the acceptance of natural gas as a fuel source, diesel engines can now be modified into Dual-Fuel engines. These Dual-Fuel engines are strong, reliable, and eco-friendly and run primarily on natural gas with reduced amounts of diesel fuel. Dual-Fuel engines produce clean emissions while maintaining the same power as diesel engines. Through the combination of Dual-Fuel engines and the fuel, LNG, the oceans will become a much cleaner place, providing a much more promising environment for Earth’s tomorrow.
Even with LNG’s lower price and with an ever stronger push from emission requirements, there are practical, infrastructure-related, and regulatory uncertainties that require consideration. As with any alternative fuel, there is the difficult question about how quickly the infrastructure can adapt to accommodate the new technologies. Even though the fuel price may be very low, the necessary infrastructure investments can be enormous, for instance, the development of LNG bunkering and storage facilities where ships can refuel. The European Commission has also identified the need for these refuelling stations and therefore launched an ambitious plan to install 139 refuelling facilities in maritime and inland ports by 2025.
INNOVATIVE “FUEL PERFORMANCE” SYSTEM
The development of liquefied natural gas (LNG) as a competitive alternative fuel in the maritime industry is exciting, yet it is at a very early stage. Besides the lack of refuelling facilities, there is another main issue that shipping companies face in fully embracing LNG as an alternative fuel. The problem is that very few LNG systems are available causing the applications of LNG to stagnate. The reason for this is that for each vessel, a new LNG system needs to be engineered. This makes using LNG as an alternative fuel very expensive. The intended track of Royal Bodewes in their LNG project is to develop a universal “Fuel Performance” operating system that will be available for our customers. This certainly lowers the threshold for other shipping companies to fully embrace LNG fuel. Bodewes’ software possesses the unique capability that other existing systems can be connected very easily. Because of this feature, the software is able to display the most effective and efficient way of navigating through sea, as the operating system considers matters such as the preferred time of arrival, weather conditions and capacity usage. The captain and crew are able to immediately notice whether it is beneficial or not to move either faster or slower.
From 2015 onward, the maritime sector faces pressure from more stringent engine and fuel quality standards that will demand major emission reductions to improve air quality and mitigate climate change impacts. For this reason, governments highly support and encourage the application of LNG as an alternative fuel. Given significant first-mover disadvantages, new projects, such as Bodewes’ “Plug and Play with LNG” project, may also require government interventions. These subsidies help to offset some of the cost of converting regular diesel fuelled engines to dual fuel engines and/or developing LNG operating systems in the context of promoting greater use of LNG fuel for transportation. For that reason, Bodewes was awarded a subsidy that will contribute to offsetting some of the abovementioned costs. By granting these financial contributions, governments promote the use of LNG throughout Europe. As a result of the assistance of the European Union, in the form of a grant awarded by the ‘Europees Fonds voor Regionale Ontwikkeling’ (EFRO), Bodewes is able to develop a “Fuel Performance” system that can help solve issues of limited gas supply while taking advantage of lower LNG prices where available.