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Wes Amelie to Become 1st Ship Partially Running on Synthetic Natural Gas

German shipping company Wessels Marine and compatriot engine manufacturer MAN Energy Solutions have unveiled a project to retrofit the container vessel Wes Amelie to liquefied synthetic natural gas (SNG) operation.

As explained, SNG would be produced from renewable electrical energy as a drop-in fuel.

The duo is cooperating on the Wes Amelie project with Nauticor, a Hamburg-based LNG supplier, and Unifeeder, a charter company.

In order to demonstrate that SNG can successfully be used as shipping fuel, 20 of the 120 tons of LNG that the Wes Amelie typically uses per round trip will be replaced by climate-neutral SNG. As a result, CO2 emissions are expected to decline by 56 tons for this trip.

Automobile manufacturer Audi’s Power-to-Gas facility in Werlte, where a liquefaction plant is currently under construction, will provide the SNG, which will be generated by wind energy and is thus 100% climate-neutral. The SNG trip will take place after the completion of the liquefaction plant in Q2 2020.

Back in 2017, the 1,036 TEU Wes Amelie, owned and managed by Wessels Reederei, became the world’s first boxship retrofitted with an LNG engine.

“This is another important milestone and proof of concept for the Maritime Energy Transition, the initiative we have been driving since 2016. We strongly believe that a roadmap based on LNG and SNG as fuels can lead the way to a decarbonised future for shipping,” Stefan Eefting, Head of MAN PrimeServ in Augsburg, commented.

“The initial retrofit to LNG took support from the German Government to be financially viable, but it was a huge success for the environment in that it drastically reduced emissions. As a consequence, there now is a retrofit programme in place to make more retrofits happen,” Christian Hoepfner, Managing Owner of Wessels Marine, Hamburg, said.

“In another world-first, we will now demonstrate that SNG can successfully be used to reduce harmful emissions even further as the fuel is climate-neutral. However the costs are still way too high. Going forward, governments and regulators will have to work together to make this a viable and available option for ship owners,” Hoepfner added.

“To bring down future emissions generated in the global-trade supply chain, synthetic fuels play a crucial role. Especially in shipping, the use of batteries alone is not a viable option and any successful decarbonisation efforts need to address the fuel. Power-to-X technology allows the generation of 100% climate-neutral natural gas from renewable energy. This technology has tremedous potential and needs to be freed from regulatory burdens and to be developed on an industrial scale to bring down costs,” Eefting further said.

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