The future of cleaner shipping

The platform

The MARITIME PLATFORM, based in Hamburg and Berlin, was founded in February 2014 as the Maritime LNG Platform and now represents an association of around 100 national and international companies, ports, associations and initiatives. The platform has set itself the goal of achieving a significant reduction in emissions such as SOx, NOx, CO2 and particulate matter through the use of LNG (Liquid Natural Gas), and thus to achieve cleaner, as well as more economical, maritime and inland waterway transport. In addition, however, climate protection continues to play an increasingly important role. Not only because of the ambitious IMO climate targets to reduce CO2 emissions by 2050 compared to 2008, but also because of technical developments (ethanol, battery, hydrogen), the pure focus on LNG is too narrow for the platform's claim to help shape the future of shipping. LNG will remain "the" driver for more environmentally-friendly (and climate-friendly) shipping and will see the role it plays strengthened; however, this will apply less so to fossil-based LNG as part of a gradual approach, which will initially involve its blending and, ultimately, complete replacement with so-called synthetic LNG, which is also referred to as E-fuel.

There are still major challenges in terms of infrastructure, industrial development and the creation of a political framework, which the platform should definitely address. With the hydrogen strategy being pursued by the Federal Government, only a first hurdle has been passed. Now the impetus from industry is once again needed to help ensure success. Hamburg, in particular, as the seat of the platform, will develop into "the" hydrogen location. Here, the platform can and will be able to provide valuable impulses. Similar to the start of the LNG debate in 2014, the platform will act as a partner and point of contact for politics and industry to provide stimulating input for the maritime economy.

Furthermore, the platform is committed to the promotion of water-side, LNG-based power supply for cargo and cruise ships and, starting in port cities, the implementation of sustainable energy and mobility concepts with LNG use in water and land transport. Especially in port cities, particulate matter pollution from shipping – one of the most frequent causes of death according to the WHO – is an issue among many that remains unsolved. This significantly reduces particulate matter pollution through electricity generation based on LNG instead of diesel.

The platform's approach is multinational and cross-competitive and bundles existing know-how, for example from other European countries such as Norway, Sweden or the Netherlands.

Shaping Policy

In January 2015, the German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure asked the platform to provide politicians with a forward strategy for LNG in Germany as a basis for future decisions and as part of the Federal Government´s Mobility and Fuel Strategy and the implementation of the EU Directive “Clean Power for Transport”.

The platform is also a member of the European Sustainable Shipping Forum (ESSF) which makes a key contribution to the establishment of uniform standards: this primarily involves a transfer of expertise to smaller ports as generally only representatives of bigger German ports attend the meetings of the ESSF. The Platform´s international partners and members are also actively involved.

The reduced maintenance costs and the lower fuel consumption more than compensate for the 10% higher purchase price. There is no additional reduction in freight capacity thanks to the installation of the fuel tank in the hull.

Alternatives to LNG, such as LPG, which would be more expensive and is only held in smaller quantities, CNG (Compressed Natural Gas), which requires twice the volume of LNG, and bio-fuels, which require a higher technical and economic cost and which are problematic with regard to instability, are much more complicated to implement than the conversion of ships to LNG fuel.