Overview of the Development of Low/Zero-Emission Marine Fuels and Implications for China


Being a major maritime nation and a world leader in renewable energy, China has a vast shipping fleet, world-leading shipbuilders and engine makers, preeminent manufacturers of renewable electricity production equipment, and an expansive network of big ports.  As the entire world seeks to decarbonize, the global shipping industry will also need to go through an inevitable energy transition to zero-emission by mid century. To inform China's policymakers in devising actions to promote low/zero-emission shipping, this paper provides an overview of the most commonly discussed alternative marine fuel solutions, and explores opportunities and challenges for deploying these fuels in China. 

To boost the technical capacity and sharpen the competitive edge of shipbuilders, shipping companies, port operators and renewable energy equipment makers so that they could take advantage of this opportunity, policymakers could consider introducing the following policies: (1) adopt GHG and energy efficiency regulations for the domestic shipping fleet, (2) support pilot port regions to scale up demonstration projects for vessels powered by low/zero-GHG emission fuel, and (3) ensure that shipping becomes an integral part of China’s actions to transition to a carbon-neutral economy.  These policies are aimed to elevate energy efficiency of domestic ships, promote co-control of carbon and air pollutant emissions from new build marine engines, and accelerate research, development and uptake of low/zero-emission fuels and technologies, which together could greatly facilitate domestic and international shipping to transition to zero emission.