Methanol as a marine fuel

Advantages and limitations

E‑Methanol is prominently discussed as a potential candidate to decarbonise deep-sea shipping. This study assesses whether the potential benefits and risks of e‑methanol are sufficiently reflected in the current discussion and whether methanol is preferable to current fossil marine fuels and other RFNBOs. Methanol has many advantages but also some disadvantages compared to other marine fuels. In comparison, methanol is easy to handle and combust. E‑methanol can offer reductions in GHG and air pollutant emissions. To be carbon-neutral, it is of upmost importance that the fuel is produced with renewable energy and a sustainable CO2 source. However, e‑methanol is likely to be more expensive than other fuels, like e‑ammonia in the decades ahead and a significant upscaling of its production would be necessary to meet the fuel demand of shipping. Overall, e‑methanol could play an important role in a future fuel mix that is more diverse. Its share in the fuel mix will be determined by several factors: upscaling of green methanol production, decrease in fuel cost, and acceptance of ammonia in the maritime sector. The years up to around 2030 will likely be key as this decade will be decisive for where investments will be made. Policy makers, therefore, should implement the right incentives as soon as possible. This includes taking a well-to-wake approach for measuring and regulating GHG emissions and considering all potential harmful pollutants that might occur due the use of future fuels like e‑methanol.