According to a study by TU Delft’s Aerospace Engineering department, a shortage of raw materials for sustainable fuels is looming. As of 2035, this would make airlines less likely to go green. The Royal Association of Netherlands Shipowners (KVNR) says this development will also affect shipping.

According to Louis Stolper, policy officer for Innovation and Digitalisation at KVNR, shipping’s energy transition depends on the exact same raw materials for sustainable fuels as aviation. Stolper explains: ‘This is because, like aircraft, ships need a fuel that contains a lot of energy, but takes up little space. This still leaves plenty of space to carry cargo. An impending shortage of the raw materials of these energy carriers therefore also affects shipping.’

Also read: KVNR: European carbon pricing proposal ineffective

FuelEU Maritime requires enough sustainable fuels

This impending shortage could have an even greater impact on shipping in the near future, says Stolper. This is due to the EU “FuelEU Maritime” legislation, which is part of the Fit-for-55 package. Stolper: ‘This legislation will force shipowners to use renewable fuels. When the legislation is introduced, it will apply to as little as two per cent of the fuel used, but by 2050, it will potentially be eighty per cent. This is unachievable without sufficient sustainable fuels.’

To still achieve the sustainability ambitions for aviation as well as maritime shipping, Stolper argues that investments will have to be made in the production of sustainable fuels. Shipping is an important sector for the global economy, as it transports ninety per cent of all goods. Stolper: ‘If this mode of transport is to become more sustainable in the future, it is crucial to provide shipping with sufficient sustainable fuel.’

Also read: European shipowners and fuel suppliers: FuelEU Maritime lacks ambition