Odfjell SE: ‘We need a holistic approach to decarbonization.’

Erik Hjortland Snic 2022

To reach net zero, the maritime sector should not rush into scaling up new types of green fuels. The massive need for extra renewable electricity to produce green fuels must be solved first. And in the meantime, the best way shipowners can contribute to net zero is to be as energy efficient as possible utilizing existing technology and build fuel-flexible vessels.

This was the main message in the keynote speech by Mr. Erik Hjortland, Vice President of Technology in Odfjell SE at SNIC 2022 – call to action for maritime decarbonization in November.

The speech was labeled ‘ground-breaking’ and ‘sobering’ by the 250 PAX audience.

Reaching IMO-goal with existing technologies

Odfjell SE is one of the leading players in the global market for seaborne transportation and storage of chemicals and other specialty bulk liquids. The Norwegian shipping giant has  improved it`s carbon-intensity by more than  50% for its fleet through weather routing, speed optimization, retrofitting large parts of the fleet with energy-saving devices, and other existing technologies in the last few years. And they have no plans to slow down on the operational and technical improvements, which have proven both good for business and good for the environment.

Massive need for extra renewables

Mr. Hjortland emphasized in his speech about green fuels for the deep sea fleet that whatever ends up being the future fuel will require renewable- or nuclear energy at a gigantic scale:
It requires extra 5.500 TWh of renewable electricity to switch the deep sea fleet to green fuels. This equals 54 % of the available renewable electricity in the world today. And the development of renewables goes too slow. In the last ten years, the added renewable electricity capacity per year has been about 325 TWh.

Consequently, Odfjell SE urges politicians and regulators to contribute to full scale-up of renewable electricity and onshore carbon capture with permanent storage. This is the very building block for decarbonization not only for shipping, but for all sectors. Also to electrify everything that can be electrified to minimize the energy loss from production to consumption.

Holistic approach

Mr. Hjortland emphasized at SNIC that we, in this ramp-up period, must stop silo-thinking and have a holistic approach.  ‘ Shipping, as for all other sectors, does not have its own atmosphere. Production of green fuels has the lowest CO2 reduction potential compared to other means. For instance, the electrification of cars has nine times as big a potential per KWh electricity input. Hence, drawing from the existing coal- and fossil-based power grid to produce green fuels for shipping will increase global carbon emission, not reduce them. ‘

Based on this, Mr. Hjortland argued in his keynote that shipping`s best holistic contribution in the energy transition phase is not to scale up green fuels now but further to improve energy efficiency through operational and technological improvements until sufficient renewable electricity is available.

‘We cannot energy efficiency ourselves to zero-emission, but on the road to zero, we can contribute significantly through operational and technical improvements while renewable energy infrastructure ramps up,’ said Mr. Erik Odfjell at SNIC 2022.

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