Belgium’s Port of Antwerp has ordered the construction of a methanol-powered tug boat and a hydrogen-powered tugboat, as well as two hybrid patrol vessels, to move away from oil-based bunkers for in-port operations, a spokeswoman for the port authority said.
The port authority is seeking regulatory approval to start using the methanol-powered vessel for in-port operations by the end of the year, the spokeswoman said.
“The methatug will be operational at the end of 2021,” she said.
“We have also ordered construction of two hybrid patrol vessels and a hydrotug, the first tug in the world powered by hydrogen. In addition, our fleet of tugs is being replaced by vessels with a more energy-efficient drive,” she said.
On a wider scale, the big challenge for methanol is supplying enough of its cleaner renewable version. To reach 2050 clean fuel targets, synthetic or renewable methanol derived from sustainable biomass or renewable hydrogen and recycled carbon dioxide will need to be made available in significant quantities. Conventional methanol comes from natural gas and may only work as a stopgap measure for shippers.
Hydrogen may enjoy greater uptake among the global fleet. The concept of a one-size-fits-all shipping fuel is in the past, with hydrogen and ammonia the leading candidates to meet cleaner fuel goals, shipping company Euronav’s CEO, Hugo De Stoop, said.
“The winners have already been decided and that is going to be either hydrogen or ammonia,” De Stoop told S&P Global Platts in an interview on Sept. 7. “The only problem that we have that we don’t know when it’s going to be ready and available,” he added.