Accelleron survey: shipping reliant on e-fuels for climate-neutral future

Press release | Baden, Switzerland | Oct 16, 2023

  • 200 decision-makers highlight potential and challenges for e-fuel use 
  • 92 percent see significant contribution in reducing greenhouse gas emissions
  • 68 percent see competitive advantage through use of e-fuels

Renewable energy will be more important to shipping’s climate goals than any other fuel feedstock, according to a survey of 200 maritime decision-makers. The ‘E-Fuels in the Shipping Industry’ survey, conducted by market researcher mo’web and commissioned by Accelleron, identifies the huge potential and some of the key challenges that ship owners and operators face as they deploy alternative fuels to meet industry targets of climate neutrality by 2050.

Around 93 percent of maritime companies see e-fuels – potentially climate-neutral fuels made using renewable electricity - as making a decisive contribution to more sustainable shipping. A similar number (92 percent) believe e-fuels can make a significant contribution to reducing shipping’s global CO2 emissions, far outranking alternatives including biofuels (69 percent), LNG (60 percent), fossil-derived hydrogen (52 percent) and fossil fuels combined with carbon capture (32 percent).

Close to half of the respondents estimate that e-fuels will become essential for shipping by 2040, and the vast majority is convinced e-fuels will be essential by 2050 (cumulative depiction). Close to half of the respondents estimate that e-fuels will become essential for shipping by 2040, and the vast majority is convinced e-fuels will be essential by 2050 (cumulative depiction).

Availability obstacles until 2030

The survey of high-level executives from Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and Spain found that the biggest group of respondents (44 percent) expect availability of e-fuels to remain poor before 2030, although almost all were confident that supply concerns will be addressed by 2050. To improve the availability of e-fuels, more than half (58 percent) of the respondents call for government incentives and subsidies for the production of e-fuels. Four out of ten shipping companies also complain about insufficient regulatory framework conditions and a lack of political support for the introduction of e-fuels.

The survey also shows that the implementation of e-fuels in shipping is seen as technically complex by the vast majority (82 percent) of companies. However, companies with higher annual turnover are less concerned. Besides lack of availability (46 percent), high switching costs (50 percent) and infrastructural problems (43 percent) are the most frequently cited obstacles to the implementation of e-fuels.

Despite the challenges, two-thirds of the companies currently see a competitive advantage through the use of e-fuels. Almost half of respondents already have concrete plans to invest in their use. For the majority (60 percent), retrofitting existing ships to run on alternative fuels is considered the best medium-term strategy for decarbonization, and 36 percent are already planning technical retrofits for their ships.

 

Indispensable from 2045

To prepare for the use of e-fuels, shipping companies currently rely most frequently (47 percent) on internal training. In addition, 41 percent are looking for strategic partnerships with e-fuel providers, while 36 percent are planning a technical retrofit of their ships.

As a result of all shipping’s stringent 2050 target and the high impact of e-fuels in achieving that goal, three quarters of companies surveyed expect to be unable to do without e-fuels by 2045 at the latest. 

"Accelleron's goal is to drive decarbonisation in the maritime and energy sectors - and we are on the right track," says Daniel Bischofberger, CEO of Accelleron. "Our survey highlights the great potential of e-fuels for the future of shipping, but we are only at the beginning. The cross-sector focus in the industry and among legislators must now quickly shift to building the right infrastructure for better availability and the right government incentives to achieve long-term cost parity between fossil fuels and e-fuels."

The study "E-Fuels in the Shipping Industry" is available in English at https://accelleron-industries.com/sustainability/e-fuel-survey.

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