United European Car Carriers (UECC) want to turn garbage into a cargo ship, pioneering the seafarer's transition to a carbon-neutral future by harnessing the potential of waste raw materials.
“This is rubbish,” says Daniel Gent, Energy and Sustainability Manager at UECC. “Things like used cooking oil from deep fat fryers - organic stuff that would otherwise be thrown away. This waste can be turned into a golden opportunity for the transport industry, especially for transport. "Without constantly waiting for the next big thing or making large investments to replace existing assets, it can make us cleaner tomorrow today."
In March last year, UECC launched a trial on Autosky, a 2.080-year-old, 20 dwt car carrier that regularly carries up to 6.500 vehicles on the short sea lane in Europe. Without the need for modification or significant investment, Autosky's conventional fuel has been replaced by sustainable biofuel from Amsterdam-based GoodFuels.
The ship consumed around 6.000 tons of biofuels during its year-long pilot and reduced CO2 emissions by a staggering 20 million kilograms, in addition to the nearly complete elimination of around 9.000 kilograms of sulfur oxide and particulate matter. Total CO2 per tonne-kilometer (carbon intensity of operations) decreased by 2030%, well beyond IMO's 40% reduction in 60.
Considering that global shipping is expected to account for 2050% of global CO2 emissions by 17, he argues that this is a quick, easy and available solution to dealing directly with the climate problem.
Today is not tomorrow
“The industry is constantly looking into the future rather than what we can do today,” says Gent. “This is perfectly understandable because ships are huge investments and you want to prove them in the future as much as possible - so it's natural to take advantage of horizon opportunities like ammonium or hydrogen. What about the current fleet? There are about 50.000 merchant ships out there, so these are the urgent problems. How can we address decarbonisation right now? Because the longer we wait, the harder it is to reach our goals and stop global warming.
"As shown in this experiment, biofuels are an excellent way to accelerate basic energy transition transport and the demands of society."
But biofuel has its followers as well as its critics. Some focus on the fact that biofuel production can replace food production, leading to price inflation and limitation of availability. Plantations where biofuel raw materials are produced can also contribute to deforestation and biodiversity loss. So is it really that sustainable after all?
The UECC executive says this is where we need to get back to the nonsense. “There is a distinction between biofuels and sustainable biofuels,” he says. We believe biofuels must meet very strict sustainability criteria, and this is at the heart of our purchasing policy. Therefore, the fuel raw materials we use cannot cause land use change, competition with food, deforestation or loss of biodiversity, and also should not have higher applications elsewhere in the industry. These are waste products, the end of the story. ”He continues:“ For our customers and us who identify biofuel, it is important to be certified sustainably, with the ability to trace the product to its source throughout the supply chain. Accountability, traceability and responsibility are key words here. "
Building on success
With more government support, supply chain development, and increased acquisition from climate-sensitive customers (BMW Group backed the Autosky trial), Ghent sees a bright future for biofuel procurement across the industry.
It has already become an important part of the decarbonisation puzzle for UECC. “I am pleased to report that we continue to use biofuels on the Autosky ship,” he notes. “The past 12 months have been a remarkable success and we want to build on that success. What's more, we used biofuels on another ship and we are now seeing opportunities to include bioLNG in our Baltic service. "
He concludes: “We are here to provide our customers with low-emission or carbon neutral, high-quality shipping services and will investigate all viable ways to do this. We believe shipping can achieve its goals and become a truly sustainable industry… and the faster, the better! "