Germany: world’s first bunkering trial of carbon-neutral synthetic LNG

Germany: world’s first bunkering trial of carbon-neutral synthetic LNG

In a world-first for the maritime sector, the containership ‘ElbBLUE’ has bunkered some 20 tons of liquefied synthetic natural gas (SNG) or synthetic LNG at the Elbe port in Brunsbüttel, Germany. The bunkering is a joint project of MAN Energy Solutions, the shipowner Elbdeich and the charterer Unifeeder, which aims at demonstrating the potential for the use of climate neutral fuels in shipping. LIQUIND Marine was tasked with the organization of logistics from the liquefaction plant to the port and execution of the bunkering of the LNG from the truck to the ship’s tank.

This is the first time ever that synthetic LNG – generated from 100% renewable energy via power-to-X technology – has been employed in commercial shipping. The carbon-neutral fuel is produced at kiwi’s Power-to-Gas facility in Werlte, Germany.

Formerly known as the ‘Wes Amelie’, the 1,036-teu feeder container ship previously made headlines in 2017 when its MAN 8L48/60B main engine was retrofitted to its current, four-stroke MAN 51/60DF unit to enable dual-fuel operation. The first such conversion of its type globally, it showed that existing engines could be converted to LNG operation with a tremendous effect on exhaust emissions and the environment. The ElbBLUE, which sails in the North and Baltic Seas, is set to continue its journey under the supervision of engineers from MAN PrimeServ, MAN Energy Solutions’ after-sales division. As a result, the vessel’s direct CO2 emissions are expected to decline by 56 tons for this coming trip.

“This is an important lighthouse project, essentially a proof of concept for the maritime energy transition. At MAN Energy Solutions, we strongly believe in the synthetic-fuels roadmap but joint efforts across the industry are needed to make it happen. The fact is that the respective governments need to establish a framework to make synthetic fuels readily available, while power-to-X needs to be developed on an industrial scale in order to bring down costs and make truly sustainable fuels a reality,” said Wayne Jones OBE, Chief Sales Officer, MAN Energy Solutions.

Stefan Eefting – Senior Vice President and Head of MAN PrimeServ, Augsburg –said: “This is a crucial step on the road to decarbonizing shipping and, in Elbdeich, we have the perfect partner. In reducing or even eliminating future emissions generated by the global supply-chain, synthetic fuels and engine retrofits have a crucial role to play. While a retrofit instantly reduces a ship’s emission-levels, synthetic fuels like SNG can enable it to run 100% climate-neutrally. Today, we are demonstrating that any LNG-retrofitted ship can also run on fuels generated by power-to-X technology, and even as a mix of fuels depending on availability.”

Jens Moje, Managing Director Elbdeich, also commented: “Elbdeich’s philosophy is that the key to a successful shipping company is its ability to detect emerging, economic developments and trends – and to react flexibly by taking the appropriate measures. We view decarbonization of the shipping industry as inevitable – and very welcome – and are delighted to play a pioneering role in its advancement.”

Timm Niebergall, Shortsea Director Unifeeder, said: “This is a great technology showcase and we are excited to be part of this. From the perspective of a charterer and as a leading operator of Feeder & Shortsea services in Europe and around the globe, we think that the future availability of green(er) fuels will be essential. Our customers in Europe and beyond are expecting innovative solutions for improving our, and thereby also their, carbon footprint – green SNG is an interesting product and we are therefore very proud to be the first Feeder & Shortsea operator testing this new fuel on one of our vessels.”

Hermann Pengg-Buehrlen, CEO of kiwi AG, said: “Our e-gas facility was the world’s first multi-megawatt installation to generate synthetic natural gas from CO2 and renewable electricity. The liquefaction unit taken into operation in 2021 was especially designed for the liquefaction of SNG. We are very proud to deliver the world´s first SNG in the shipping industry to MAN and Elbdeich.”

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