Shipping industry’s future fuels transition is cost-prohibitive without adoption of clean technology, says Nippon Paint Marine


The potential cost implications of future fuels will slow the energy transition without the adoption of proven, clean technologies that drive fuel and operational cost efficiencies as part of daily operations. Shipping must act now to adapt and evolve its operations today, to be able to afford the elevated costs of tomorrow’s decarbonised maritime industry, according to Nippon Paint Marine, a global leader in marine coatings.

While there is no ‘silver bullet’ to secure shipping’s decarbonisation, the delivery and uptake of a new generation of viable and proven zero-carbon fuels will be essential to meeting the targets and expectations of regulatory bodies like the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the EU and wider stakeholders in the maritime value chain.

“Shipping companies must take decisive action when it comes to decarbonising the industry,” Mr. Hirozaku Kaji (pictured), Technical Director at Nippon Paint Marine, explains. “Clean technologies that are performance-based, such as advanced marine coatings which are the most widely used in the market, play a key role in driving the immediate reduction in fuel consumption and emissions today, as well as delivering operational efficiencies that will enable the successful transition to future fuels in the medium to longer term.”

There are multiple fuel options on the table to rapidly decarbonise the maritime industry– from increasingly common LNG, methanol, and biofuel solutions to less developed alternatives, such as hydrogen and ammonia. However, the price change compared to current bunkering costs is set to be exponential. Take methanol as an example. It takes two tonnes of methanol to get the same calorific value as one tonne of HFO (19.7 MJ/kilogram compared with 41.8 MJ /kilogram for HFO), so the ‘real’ price to operate a methanol-fuelled vessel is pushed up to $2,000 a tonne; over 300% more than current VLSFO prices, and over 200% more than MGO prices.

“Future fuels will undoubtedly play a critical role in meeting shipping’s decarbonisation targets. However, these cost implications may prove commercially difficult and cost prohibitive for many industry players,” said Mr. Kaji. “Laying the groundwork by adopting clean technologies such as hull coatings can help ship owners and operators improve operational performance and mitigate the increased costs of more expensive future fuels.

“It will also make their assets more competitive in the eyes of their charterers who often pay for the cost of fuel. Implementing a proven and effective low-friction antifouling marine coating for example, can reduce fuel costs and emissions by up to 10% alone compared to using standard antifoulings that do not have proven biomimetic or low-friction properties.”

There is a wide diversity and availability of clean technologies across the shipping industry, and so it is important that ship owners and operators adopt proven solutions based on thorough due diligence and analysis. Working with manufacturers that demonstrate rigour in the R&D and testing process ensures that the claimed efficiency savings can be verified and deliver tangible commercial impact.

Nippon Paint Marine operates at the forefront of technical innovation, investing in state-of-the art R&D facilities to bring to market new marine coatings based on a real-world understanding of the challenges that its customers face. The company is focused on delivering progressive solutions that break new ground and support its customers in meeting the shipping industry’s greatest challenges, accelerating the path to decarbonisation and wider sustainability.