After announcing their three-month biofuel trial earlier this year, short sea shipowner United European Car Carriers (UECC) and sustainable shipping initiative The GoodShipping Program have now partnered with car manufacturer BMW Group to continue to test marine biofuel (BFO) on UECC’s roll-on/roll-off (RoRo) vessels.

biofuel trials
Image Courtesy: UECC/The GoodShipping Program

BMW Group joins the duo in the trial, where BFO is being tested on UECC’s 140-metre, 2,080-vehicle carrier M/V Autosky.

The first volume of biofuel was delivered to Autosky on 16 March in the Port of Rotterdam. The trial has and will see subsequent further refuelling operations between March and July 2020. The ship is currently testing BFO on the route between Zeebrugge, Belgium and Santander, Spain. The BFO – based on cooking oil – being used for the trial was supplied by the biofuel company GoodFuels.

By covering the fuel premium for a biofuel volume corresponding to BMW Group’s freight that will be shipped on the Autosky during the trial period, BMW Group will be able to claim a CO2 emission reduction of 80 to 90 per cent for these shipments, totalling more than 400 tonnes of carbon, according to UECC and the GoodShipping Program.

This is said to be a significant step towards achieving a carbon-neutral supply chain for BMW, and is the core aim of the GoodShipping Program, which enables cargo owners to reduce their environmental footprint.

“BMW Group’s participation to continue our trial on our ro-ro vessel M/V Autosky should … signal to the automotive sector that the means to decarbonise are readily available and that our vessels are equipped to meet this most important of challenges for the shipping industry,” Daniel Gent, Energy and Sustainability Manager, UECC, commented.

“Transportation logistics have a huge carbon impact, so the leadership shown by BMW Group to proactively take steps to decarbonise – and recognise that solutions are available – should act as a call for others in the sector to join us on this journey,” Anniek Sluis, Growth Captain, The GoodShipping Program, added.

The GoodShipping Program requires shippers to commit to a reduction in their sea freight CO2 emissions. The initiative works on the premise that, as all COfrom shipping is emitted into the same atmosphere, the means of mitigating these emissions is equally impactful, regardless of which vessels adopt biofuels over traditional bunker fuels – or the amount of ‘drop in’ biofuel that is added to the fuel tank, as long as it offsets the CO2 costs of transporting participating shippers’ cargo.

Marine biofuel allows shipowners and operators to comply with both new legislation around sulphur content for marine fuels, as well as future regulations on carbon reduction by 2030 and 2050.

In the following months, further options for continuing marine biofuel uptake within the RoRo segment will be pursued, according to the partners.

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