Select your language

Liquefied natural gas (LNG): Already in use, LNG is rapidly gaining acceptance as a marine fuel. It reduces CO2 emissions and substantially lowers nitrogen dioxide (NOx) and sulphur dioxide (SOx) emissions as well as fine particulates. It is noteworthy that most of the alternative-fuel vessels that are on order around the world are LNG-powered. When the natural gas on which LNG is based is of renewable origin (RNG), for example when produced from the biomethanization of organic matter, the potential to reduce GHG emissions is even greater. Since its launch, this LNG bunkering system at the Port of Montreal has been used more than 150 times. Read our article on the Damia Desgagnés' 100th liquified natural gas bunkering.

Liquefied petroleum gas (LPG): Made up of propane or butane, LPG can reduce CO2 emissions by around 15%. However, transporting LPG to Quebec ports by rail or road, combined with a lack of infrastructure, makes its use unattractive in the region.

Hydrogen: When produced from fossil fuels such as natural gas (grey hydrogen), hydrogen has quite a high carbon impact. However, several projects to produce hydrogen from water electrolysis (green hydrogen)—which has quite a low carbon impact—are underway in Quebec, benefiting from its abundant hydroelectricity. Green hydrogen as a marine energy source is promising, especially as a primary source for the production of fuels with a higher calorific value, such as methanol or ammonia.

Methanol: Whether grey (derived from fossil fuels) or green (produced from biomass or green hydrogen), methanol is mainly produced in Western Canada and exported to Quebec. Several challenges must be overcome before it can be adopted on a broad scale, chief among them the availability of the product and of storage and distribution infrastructures.

Ammonia: Produced in large quantities for the fertilizer industry, ammonia can be classified as grey or green based on its production method. There are projects to produce green ammonia in Quebec, but its use as a marine fuel faces a number of challenges, notably due to its toxicity to humans and marine life.

Biofuels: Biofuels have potential benefits in Quebec in terms of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but for more widespread use, higher demand and local production must be stimulated.

Vessel electrification: Bunkering ship engines by electrical power systems while docked takes place in many ports around the world, including the Port of Montreal. The use of batteries or fuel cells on ships could gain momentum as this technology becomes more widespread on land vehicles.

Wind power: Automated sails and marine wind turbines harness the energy of the wind and provide complementary propulsion, reducing the fuel consumption of traditional engines. So, this type of technology could help to decarbonize shipping without scrapping existing vessels. At present, several technologies are being studied or have already been rolled out by various companies around the world, including: rotors, which use the wind to power a mechanical motor; rigid sails, which can be fitted with solar panels; traditional flexible sails; and turbines adapted to generate electrical power or stimulate impulse. Because of their cost and efficiency, these wind propulsion technologies are more likely to be considered in hybrid vessel designs where they can serve as a complementary energy source and reduce fuel consumption.

Solar power: Solar panels aboard ship? For the time being, this system is intended to power on-board electrical systems, such as lighting, rather than ship propulsion. The CEGEP de Rimouski’s Innovation Maritime research centre is working on a project to test the use of solar energy on vessels plying the St. Lawrence River.

The shipping industry is investing heavily in R&D for these technologies, seeking to diversify its energy sources while complying with increasingly tough environmental standards. The marine industry’s future will be shaped by an innovative combination of these energy sources, charting the course towards a more sustainable, carbon-neutral sector.

Source: https://tmq.ca/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/Synthese-EN-Carburants-Alternatifs-au-Quebec-MeRLIN-IMAR.pdf