For business decisions, the fuel price and the availability in the ports of interest are key items. The following explanation gives an overview. For the fuels currently used, an actual price indication, based on publicly available information, is provided by the current price development of oil and gas.
In most cases, the investment in engine technology is not the dominant factor for the business case. The price of fuel over the lifetime of the ship, or the desired return on investment over a given period, is often the most relevant factor. Without taxation or subsidies, renewable fuels (biofuels, hydrogen, PtF) will find it difficult to compete with the prices of conventional fossil fuels. LNG and LPG are the only fuels with a CO2 reduction potential which can currently compete in price with conventional ship fuels.
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Apart from its price, a future fuel must be available to the market in sufficient quantity. All fuel alternatives discussed here could meet the requirements of the shipping industry for the next ten years, assuming only minor growth in shipping applications. The question is what would happen if a fuel alternative were to become so attractive that a large number of operators would want to adopt it for their ships within a short period of time.
For all alternative fuels discussed here, with the exception of LNG, a rapid rise in demand would require massive investments in production capacity. In theory, a switchover of the entire global fleet to LNG would be possible today, since the current LNG production is higher than the shipping industry’s energy requirement and the share of LNG in the total gas market is only 10%. Furthermore, LPG could likewise cover the energy need of the global fleet; however, in this case, no LPG would be left for other users.