LNG bunkering & OPS

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For more than 40 years, liquefied natural gas (LNG) carriers have been using the natural gas cargo vapours as fuel to propel the ship. This translated into the recognition of LNG as an alternative fuel for this type of ship, initially while at berth and under certain conditions during navigation.

In 2018, the use of LNG by ships in the EU represented only 3% of the total amount of fuel consumed. However, its use can substantially reduce the release of air pollutants like sulphur oxide (SOx; a reduction of up to 90%), particulate matter (PM; a reduction of up to 90%) and nitrogen oxides (NOx; a reduction of up to 80%) compared to traditional fossil fuels.

EU standards on the deployment of an alternative fuels infrastructure require all ports in the core part of the TEN-T network to be equipped with LNG refuelling stations by 2025. LNG bunkering is already well advanced and deployed in several ports in the EU. . In 2020, a total of 59 ports in the EU had LNG installations, totalling 71 facilities.

Ships can also avail of onshore power supplies (OPS), which provide a clean source of energy, in maritime and inland navigation ports, where air quality is poor, or noise levels are high. 

Although a sizeable majority of ships are equipped with the potential for some electrical connection to shore, these typically involve low-voltage OPS for limited energy supply. This can be used in parallel with onboard energy or applied during periods when the ship is not in service, whilst at berth, with reduced power or energy demand.

In the EU, 9.60% of container ships, 15% of cruise ships and 10% of Ro-pax ships calling at ports in 2020 were equipped with high-voltage OPS. Also in 2020, 31 ports from 12 EU Member States have already implemented high-voltage shore connection (36 shore-to-ship power supply facilities in total in the EU). 

EMSA’s role: LNG bunkering & OPS

Directive 2014/94/EC on the deployment of alternative fuels infrastructure, part of the EU Clean Power for Transport package establishes a comprehensive set of requirements for an inter-modal development of an alternative fuel infrastructure.

Under the Directive, the availability of LNG in EU core ports is scheduled for 31 December 2025 (maritime ports) and 31 December 2030 (inland ports). The Directive also establishes an obligation for EU Member States to develop appropriate standards containing detailed technical specifications for refuelling points for LNG for maritime and inland waterway transport.

As a result, EMSA produced a set of Guidelines on LNG Bunkering for Port Authorities and Administrations with the aim of harmonising requirements throughout ports in Europe in respect of safe and environmental bunkering operations for LNG fuelled ships.

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