LNG marine engines to witness substantial adoption in the next few years

Prospects for LNG as an engine fuel look promising in the marine sector where strict environmental regulations have encouraged ship owners and operators to consider sustainable alternatives. The past few years have witnessed increasing number of LNG fueled vessels being built.

The application of LNG as a marine fuel is garnering momentum on account favorable circumstances surrounding the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) regulations on fuel oil. The switch to LNG across the globe could lead to a rapid and significant growth in demand for LNG marine engines in the near future.

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Anglo Belgian, IHI Corporation, Volvo Penta, Scania, Turbo, Rolls Royce, John Deere, Deutz, Cummins, Brunswick Corporation, Caterpillar, Yuchai, Wärtsilä, and Yanmar are some of the leading manufacturers of LNG marine engine.

One of the fastest growing and most lucrative verticals within the energy sector, global LNG marine engine market size is poised to experience steady growth over the next few years.

The impact of favorable GHG regulations

LNG offers several advantages over conventionally-used petroleum products. Natural gas usually generates lower emissions of carbon dioxide and virtually no sulphur oxides, nitrogen oxides, or particulate matter. These trends have positively influenced the adoption of LNG engines in the marine sectors in recent years. It is estimated that most lucrative segments would be cruise ships, large container vessels, ferries, and bulk carriers, with many of these vessels spending all or majority of their time in coastal North America or the Baltic/North Sea region.

LNG marine engine manufacturers are constantly innovating to bring high-quality, energy-efficient, and sustainable solutions to the market. Citing an instance, in June 2019, Winterthur Gas and Diesel Limited added three new dual-fuel engines to its portfolio of LNG engines. The X82DF, X82-D, and X40DF dual-fuel engines will offer ship owners a wider range of compliant choices.

The X82-D and X40DF are designed to run on natural gas in addition other fuel oils. According to the company, the new engines were part of its response to the surging demand for more reliable and energy-efficient marine propulsion systems that serve the changing needs of the marine industry.

The presence of stringent regulations will undeniably propel the adoption of LNG marine engines in the coming years. In 2018, IMO had adopted a strategy to reduce marine GHG emissions by up to 50% by 2050 compared to 2008, while making constant efforts towards phasing them out entirely.

Some key factors limiting the product adoption

Although LNG has several clear advantages over other fuel alternatives, it is not the only sustainable solution. Ship makers and operators looking at sustainable alternatives have two other options, low sulfur marine diesel and low sulfur fuel oil. In addition, travel restriction imposed worldwide in wake of the coronavirus outbreak and a significant drop in marine tourism has negatively affected LNG marine engine industry forecast.

However, environment regulations, rapidly evolving technology, economics are encouraging the use of LNG as a marine fuel. Increased utilization of LNG in the maritime sector is driving developments through the entire value chain, from engine design and enhanced fuel delivery to infrastructure, finance, and new vessel orders.

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