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Approval of methanol guidelines will release 'pent-up demand': Methanol Institute

Institute says IMO adoption of guidelines on ethyl and methyl alcohol fuels provides genuine alternative for 2030 compliance and beyond.

The methanol-powered tanker Mari Jone. Image credit: Waterfront Shipping

Updated on 09 Nov 2020 12:03 GMT

The Methanol Institute (MI) has welcomed the adoption by the IMO's Maritime Safety Committee of interim guidelines on the use of methanol as a marine fuel.

The guidelines enshrine ethyl and methyl alcohols as options for marine fuel - a milestone the institute believes will be a catalyst for more ship operators to consider methanol as a low carbon compliance option.

MI notes growing interest among owners and operators seeking a solution to cutting carbon emissions quickly and embracing renewables in the longer term. The institute says it is also working with shipyards to develop standard vessel designs for ships powered by methanol.

According to MI, 12 methanol-powered chemical tankers constructed to equivalent class rules are already in operation, with another 10 on order; and the institute expects the new guidelines to shorten the time to approval and even lower the cost of constructing tankers, bulkers and containerships using methanol as fuel.

The first bunkering Technical Reference for Methanol was published recently by Lloyd's Register and MI, with fuel suppliers gearing up to increase capacity for methanol bunkering volumes.

"Our work with shipowners, class societies, flag administrations and bunkering providers demonstrates there is pent-up demand for a low carbon fuel that can help owners meet their 2030 emission reduction targets at a fraction of the cost of an LNG powered vessel," remarked MI COO Chris Chatterton.

"With new methanol guidelines the industry truly has a choice that can help start to reduce emissions with the regulatory certainty it needs," Chatterton added.

The IMO approval comes as research by the IEA-AMF suggests conventional methanol can be a significant bridge fuel, lending itself as a base for increased blending of bio-methanol or renewable methanol going forward.

As the simplest alcohol with no carbon-to-carbon bonds, methanol has a 4:1 hydrogen to carbon ratio, which also makes it a key candidate for utilization as a hydrogen carrier, for example, in fuel cells.

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