“Is the conversion of heavy land and sea transport possible?” This is the question that animated the webinar held on Thursday 19 March 2020 and organized by the Ecofuturo group.
The initiative, which took place despite the health emergency relating to Covid-19, also touched on the hypothesis that fine dust resulting from air pollution could act as a vector for the spread of viruses, especially in densely populated areas. The current debate on the conversion of heavy transport fleets to the use of green fuels, in light of this consideration, would not only give priority to the environmental aspect but would look more carefully, now more than ever, at the issue of public health.
The Ecofuturo group supports the concrete possibility of a compatible and renewable conversion, by virtue of the development of increasingly innovative and high-performing new technologies, which would involve the use of biomethane and liquid biomethane, both derived from waste and agriculture.
The meeting, which was also attended by Senator Mauro Coltorti, and saw the active contribution of Assarmatori with Eng. Enrico Allieri (Ship Technology, Maritime Safety & Environment Director):
“Those who preceded me – road haulage, as an editor’s note – talked of vehicles driven by 400 horsepower engines. In a large merchant ship, it is normal that there are as many as 40,000 horsepower. And this can already give an idea of what the consumption of a single maritime transport unit is, as well as of the problems to be solved to store and supply ships with similar quantities of energy, be it bio-methane or methane of fossil origin. Indeed, the real challenge for the future of transport is in fact how to guarantee supply. In fact, the real problem for shipping is not how to store gaseous fuels such as methane, compressing or liquefying them with certain procedures, but how to guarantee supplies. It is, therefore, essentially an infrastructure problem”.
“In fact – continues Allieri – the port infrastructures should be able to guarantee the bunkering needs of ships in different situations. This speech, in view of the conversion of naval fuels, inevitably leads us to the theme of LNG and how it would be appropriate to have adequate supply and storage infrastructures especially in those ‘strategic’ ports – I am thinking of the ‘terminus’ ports in the ferry lines or cruises – which would guarantee the reduction of harmful emissions and air pollution also in the so-called ‘historic ports’ such as Genoa, Naples, Venice and others. This discourse also brings in the issue of electric propulsion by batteries – obviously recharged on the dock using energy produced from renewable sources, otherwise the discussion falls apart – and the problem of electrification of the docks themselves. It is clear that using these technologies would significantly reduce, not only environmental pollution, but also noise pollution”.
“Another major issue, directly related to what has been said, is that of the renewal of shipping fleets, which is a much more complex issue than the renewal of road vehicle fleets, given that the number of units would be far less than that of the road haulage, but the unit costs would be enormously higher and the life cycle much longer, which would also lead to longer replacement times. And this is a problem, because the ships that are launched today are the same ships that we will see sailing in 20-30 years, and perhaps even more. Building a ship suitable for the use of methane, whether of fossil or biological origin, has significant additional costs. In this regard – concludes Allieri – shipping has proven to be favorable to this solution, and LNG could prove to be an excellent transition fuel because it would allow the use of the engine technologies available today which are the same that could be used in the future with methane organic, synthetic methane and synthetic fuel, creating a virtuous circle in terms of energy use and respect for the environment”.