FOSSIL FUELS - STOP BURNING IT
It’s crucial to stop burning fossil fuels such as MDO, HFO or LNG & hydrogen produced from such, for different reasons:
Exhaust gases like greenhouse gas CO2, NOx, SOx, black carbon and (ultra) fine particles contribute evidently to climate change and cause serious health problems on human bodies, especially in seaport-cities (like Hamburg & Rotterdam).
A great number of national and international regulations determine the limits for these exhausts which makes expensive filter techniques such as scrubbing necessary for vessels. Like ballast water treatment systems that need to be installed or retrofitted, filter techniques can be million dollar investments for the shipowners without any obvious operational benefit (unlike self-produced hydrogen fuel). And logically there could will be new rules, regulations or taxes for CO2 established in near future, too.
SAVINGS ARE PROFIT
The average amount of a bunker bill after one time filling up a seagoing vessel has usually a five, six or seven digit number - a million dollar amount every year, for one ship! All that money could be saved… The bill for fuel is the biggest part of operational costs in shipping next to crew wages. Crew and crew wages shouldn’t be cut, so better safe on the fuel bill!
On short- and middle-term view it seems that LNG will be implemented and established as environmental friendly ship fuel, because sulphur is normally removed already - so there are no SOX emissions, NOX emissions are significantly reduced by 70 % to 80 % and CO2 emissions are approximately 25 % to 30 % less, but anyhow - still present. That sounds fine on the first glance but in the end LNG (and nowadays more than 90% of hydrogen) is still a fossil fuel. That means plants absorbed over million of years the carbon dioxides from the atmosphere, captured it and stored it over another million of years. Within the previous hundred years (a glimpse of time) we set it free in the air again and call it environmental friendly fuel - this is simply wrong. With methane/LNG included, we all people together emit every year this decade as much CO2 into the atmosphere by burning fossil plants like living plants on planet earth needed one million years for capturing it - just to have an idea about the dimension.
Besides methane (CH4) is around 24 times more ozone depleting than CO2 . With every bunker/re-filling procedure methane can escape to atmosphere and when burning it also methane slip occurs as it doesn’t burn completely. The ‚ultra fine particles‘ in exhaust gas are considered more dangerous by medical scientists, than the bigger soot particles from HFO as they enter the human body more easily and deeper.
ANY FUEL IS JUST AS SUSTAINABLE AS IT WAS PRODUCED
That's how we come to hydrogen - when burning hydrogen there is no emission, except water. The recently implemented 'IGF code' makes it actually possible to use hydrogen as ship fuel.
Unfortunately in 2012 over 90 % of the worldwide available hydrogen (500 billions m³) was produced by steam-reforming or partial oxidation and gasification of fossil fuels such as Methane, petroleum products and coal.
—> this is unsustainable.
Sustainable would be producing hydrogen by photolysis, photosynthesis and electrolysis powered by renewables. Photolysis and photosynthesis are still under research and development, while the electrolysis is known to 'us' already over a century and nowadays ready to buy and for maritime business quite affordable where big investments are usually the case. The hydrogen 'we' can store under pressure, liquefy it and proved that we can handle it safely in cars, busses and boats.