The shipping industry may be ill prepared to accommodate the global drive towards biofuel use. Lloyd's Register CEO Richard Sadler has called on the shipping industry to make preparations for the global drive towards biofuels and argues that if second and third generation technologies are successful then current projections of demand would see the world fleet unable to cope with the logistic demands.
Speaking recently at IMarEST's annual Stanley Gray lecture, targeted at shipowners, regulators, economists, engineers and the general public, Richard Sadler concluded that the increase in demand for biocargoes would require an additional fleet size of 400 Handysize equivalents by 2030. Moreover, with additional environmental pressures, these vessel requirements may well increase. The International Energy Agency (IEA) World Energy Outlook projections for biofuel demand may well be inflated by political pressures to find alternative bio energy in shortening timescales.
The implications for the shipping industry are significant. Whether first or third generation, whether biodiesel or bioethanol, shipping will be at the heart of the supply chain and anticipatory investment will have to be made by the industry. Contradictory information makes the risk in that investment uncertain and therefore it is vital to look at ways to hedge the future - through flexible initial oil tanker design for vessels to be constructed now and converted in the future to take advantage of growing biotrade.
Companies investing time and money in developing technology into economically viable and socially acceptable solutions are naturally keeping quiet about the technology or products being developed. Whether as a cargo or for use in the engine room, these new solutions will have to be incorporated into marine systems. Current ship designs are constrained by current legislation, creating poor designs if biofuel becomes a large scale global energy source. New standards may be required to meet essential safety and environmental needs and an early start is essential to meet these challenges. Lloyd's Register welcomes dialogue with all concerned and is ready to assist.