Study shows South Africa well placed to lead production of green shipping fuels

A study by Ricardo and Environmental Defense Fund for the P4G Getting to Zero Coalition Partnership finds that South Africa holds an untapped opportunity to supply the global shipping industry with zero carbon fuels. 

The production of green hydrogen-derived fuels can help to meet decarbonization targets and act as a catalyst for the country’s economy – opening new export markets, supporting an equitable transition, and creating the jobs of the future. The study explores the economic and environmental potential for the implementation of zero carbon shipping fuels through the shipping sector of South Africa.

International maritime transport is on the verge of an energy revolution. Within this decade, the shipping industry must start to replace traditional heavy bunker fuel with new zero carbon shipping fuels generated from renewable energy to meet decarbonization targets. South Africa has vast renewable energy sources, and the country has committed to reach net zero emissions by 2050.

The report finds that South Africa’s geographical location and economic development make it particularly well suited to distribute zero carbon fuels for the South African shipping sector, and export to international markets.

Several zero carbon fuels can potentially be used in shipping. The abundance of renewable energy resource in South Africa means that shipping fuels can be derived from renewable electricity generation.

“The report identifies hydrogen and ammonia as the most suitable options for large commercial vessels while South Africa’s small domestic vessels can be supplied through direct electrification using onboard batteries and motors. Shipping’s demand for zero carbon fuels could provide a constant long-term revenue stream, which is an attractive feature for investment,” says Ingrid Sidenvall Jegou, Project Director, Global Maritime Forum.

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