Biomethane can replace large amounts of fossil ship fuel
Within a couple of years, there may be a real opportunity for shipping to exchange fossil LNG for renewable liquid methane from Swedish biogas plants.
The number of vessels operating with LNG, liquefied natural gas, is steadily increasing due to environmental benefits and economic reasons. From LNG, carbon dioxide emissions per unit of energy is lower than for fossil bunker oil. Also, LNG contains very little sulfur. The shipping sector shows great interest in taking the next transitional step – to replace fossil LNG with renewable LBM, liquefied Bio Methane, a collective name for liquid methane produced via various renewable production techniques.
The report shows that a sufficient domestic production of LBM for the vessels that bunker in Swedish ports is fully realizable. In a few years, the annual demand from the shipping sector is estimated at 4–5 TWh. With consistent investments, the current Swedish production of about 2 TWh per year can be more than tenfold until 2045. The conditions are that the annual production of liquid biomethane increases by more than 1 TWh, corresponding to up to ten new major Swedish biogas plants per year.
The research group has carried out detailed analyzes of current and planned production capacity as well as potential future bio- and electromethane production. The life cycle analyzes of production and use in shipping show good climate performance, also for electromethane production, which is included in such an analysis for the first time.
The conditions for Swedish biogas production have recently improved through the decision to introduce a subsidy for biogas production. If shipping is also incorporated into the EU’s emissions trading system, the cost of renewable LBM in comparison with LNG can be leveled out and become more economically competitive. Besides a simplified permit process, such stimulus measures need to be stable and long-term for the expansion of Swedish biomethane production to take off and be implemented.
Results were presented (in Swedish) in an open webinar on 15 March 2022. A recording is available here:
Karl Jivén, IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute
Anders Hjort, Emelie Persson, Tomas Lönnqvist, Mirjam Särnbratt and Anna Mellin, IVL // Elin Malmgren and Selma Brynolf, Chalmers
15 June 2020 - 31 december 2021
Total project cost
1 830 000 SEK
The Swedish Energy Agency, the f3 partner organisations, Energigas Sverige, Energikontor Sydost, Furetank Rederi AB, Gasum AB, Innovatum AB, IVL, Svensk Rederiservice AB and Tärntank Ship Management.
Swedish Energy Agency's project number within the collaborative research program
The project has a reference group consisting of representatives from Furutank Rederi AB, Tärntank Ship Management AB, The Swedish Shipowners’ Association, Gasum AB, Energigas Sverige, Biogas Väst and Energikontor Sydost. The group will be extended.