Maritime Emissions Reduction National Action Plan
2 February 2024
There is global momentum towards gas-fuelled ships. In fact, a decade ago there were just 10 gas-fuelled cargo vessels worldwide. Today there are 936, with another 876 on order (Clarkson's Research).
Australia has been a slow adopter of the inherent immediate and longer-term advantages gas – and, in particular, LPG provides. That said, three of the most recent acquisitions to Australia's coastal shipping fleet are powered by LPG. And for good reason.
The benefits of running shipping on LPG include:
- LPG yields an immediate 20% reduction in emissions compared to marine diesel. But, as renewable gases are developed over the next few years, those emissions will plummet to net zero using bioLPG and, ultimately, actual zero using synthetic renewable LPG (rLPG).
- Adopting LPG now avoids future costs. Ships are acquired with a view to many decades service. BioLPG and rLPG are one-for-one replacements for conventional LPG. This means no changes are requires to ship engines or components in order to swap-in bioLPG or rLPG.
- Adopting LPG prevents the prevailing dangers posed by marine diesel ships. If a diesel ship were to run aground, collide with another vessel or sink in Australian waters it would be an ecological disaster without parallel for our pristine beaches, waters and the sea life they support. Such an incident would have far-reaching and long-term ramifications for local businesses, fisheries, tourism operators, hospitality venues and a host of associated impacts. This scenario is entirely avoidable. LPG-fuelled vessels are clean and, in the event of an incident at sea, the gas can be released, dissipating without environmental impact as it neither slicks nor sediments.
- Energy security is emerging as a key issue globally. Using LPG as a fuel of choice would solve our national reliance on imported diesel-oil, replaced by domestically produced gases (LPG, bioLPG and rLPG) that Australia can produce in abundance. This would deliver genuine fuel security and self-sufficiency, which underpins the point of having a sovereign fleet.
Net zero bioLPG will be available in Australia from as soon as 2025-26. As a by-product of biodiesel and sustainable aviation fuel production using the hydrotreated vegetable oil process, the first three plants slated for operation in 2025-26 have the capacity to initially displace 11% of conventional LPG demand almost immediately, seeing up to 160,000 tonnes of CO2-e abated per year.
The exponential growth of this sector has the potential to replace all conventional LPG. Indeed, as the CSIRO's Sustainable Aviation Fuel Roadmap (released August 2023) makes clear, from 2025 Australia will have sufficient feedstock to produce 5 billion litres of SAF every year from approximately 15 biorefineries with LPG as a by-product. This would abate up to 1.5 million tonnes of CO2-e each year.
However, the advent of renewable synthetic LPG (rLPG), derived from green Hydrogen and CO2 from the atmosphere, is an actual zero emitting gas. The only CO2 expelled when it is burned is what was captured when it was made – meaning it has a zero impact on the environment and, as such, requires no offsets.
It is expected rLPG will be available in Australia from the mid-2030s. Based on current domestic demand, replacing all conventional LPG with synthetic actual zero rLPG by 2050 would reduce CO2-e emissions by up to 1.94 million tonnes every year.
GEA's submission is available below...
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