For decades LNG is being used as fuel and energy storage for small-scale industrial “onshore” applications, e.g. steam boiler and power plants, successfully replacing heavy fuel oils, which contribute majorly to increasing CO2, NOx and SOx emissions. LNG, which ultimately will be regasified (warmed up) to natural gas, contains only methane, which will be completely burned to CO2, yet emitting less CO2 compared to heavy fuel oil.
Also, LNG and its substitutes, i.e. LBG (Liquefied Biogas) and LMG (Liquefied Methane Gas, retrieved from stranded gas sources such as flare gas) are entering the mobility market, powering engines for heavy-duty trucks and buses in public transportation.
The use of LNG in sea- and ocean-going vessels had been neglected, so far. From 2010 onwards, and with respect to the introduction to national bonus-malus systems (incentive programs), particularly in Scandinavia, LNG will be become interesting as fuel in marine transportation. Key drivers are NOx emission figures, which, in fact, must be reduced by 20 in 2011, and by 80% from 2016 onwards; favouring substantially the use of clean LNG. Also, sulfur in marine fuels must be reduced from 2020 onwards to 0.1% for near shore going vessels, and to 0.5% for ocean-going vessels. On the contrary, heavy fuel oils can contain up to 4.5% sulfur, which will be converted to SOx.
Interestingly, ferries operating at the Baltic Sea will be firstly converted towards to alternative use of LNG as fuel, favouring new “onshore” based small-scale LNG production sites. Again, LNG, the general-purpose-fuel, finds another downstream player: ferries – sounds pretty fair to me.