GCMD-led consortium to spend $18m on ‘green’ fuels supply chain integrity

The Global Centre for Maritime Decarbonisation (GCMD) is leading a consortium of 18 industry partners to launch a biofuels pilot project with a combined contribution of US$18 million, with plans to use BunkerTrace’s blockchain-based digital and synthetic DNA tracing system to track marine fuels from production to vessel propulsion.

The pilot aims to validate the authenticity of sustainable biofuels through molecular verification tests conducted on fuel samples that are collected at numerous identified points along the supply chain.

This testing could be used to ensure traceability of drop-in biofuels, such as bio-LNG, bio-methanol and green ammonia when they become available in meaningful quantities, from production, distribution, transportation, storage, and bunkering to shipboard application, providing end-to-end supply chain transparency.

Piloting will start with fuel blends involving existing biofuels, such as hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) and fatty acid methyl esters (FAME) blended with either very low sulphur fuel oil (VLSFO), high-sulphur fuel oil (HSFO) or marine gas oil (MGO) in blends up to 30% biofuels (B30).

“There are so many good elements in this pilot. A variety of biofuels and biofuel blends have already been successfully tested, but this comprehensive pilot can help address remaining uncertainties about how these fuels work in practice by getting extensive end-user operational experiences with products involving FAME and HVO, and hopefully also crude algae oil,” said Unni Einemo, Director of the International Bunker Industry Association (IBIA).

 “The tracing element in this pilot is also really exciting. Biofuels have the potential to help the existing fleet meet IMO’s GHG reduction targets by taking lifecycle emissions into account, but one of the challenges will be certification of product origin as the sustainability of biofuels can vary significantly depending on production pathways.”

“Biofuels can be blends coming from feedstock with different sustainability profiles, so it will be interesting to see if the DNA tracing will show mainly single-source origin products or biofuels of multiple origins. This could give us some really useful insights into the complexities of documenting the full supply chain of fuels, which will become increasingly important.”

The route-based pilots will involve 12 vessels, all equipped with MAN ES two-stroke engines, bunkering at three ports across three continents. Altogether, the ship owners, charterers and operators participating in the pilot project represent approximately 2,300 vessels across the container, tanker and bulker segments.

“GCMD is leading this route-based pilot to help align stakeholders in the supply chain for the adoption of biofuels,” said Professor Lynn Loo, CEO of GCMD.

“By facilitating and creating an optimised drop-in green fuels supply chain, this pilot will help to shape national and international standards of biofuels bunkering and lower the barrier for their wider adoption to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from a lifecycle perspective.”

“In curating and executing this first-of-its-kind drop-in biofuels pilot, GCMD is positioned to address stakeholder pain points in the complexities of the supply chain of green marine fuels in a meaningful way.”

In the run-up to the launch of the pilot on 1 August, GCMD says it is now finalising agreement details with the 18 partners, with the project expected to take 12 to 18 months to complete.

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Rob O'Dwyer

Rob is Chief Network Officer and one of the founders of Smart Maritime Network. He also serves as Chairman of the Smart Maritime Council. Rob has worked in the maritime technology sector since 2005, managing editorial for a range of leading publications in the transport and logistics sector. Get in touch by email by clicking here, or on LinkedIn by clicking here.

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