Without green hydrogen policy, shipping and aviation will never get to zero emissions

Skies and Seas Hydrogen-fuels Accelerator Coalition

(London: 11 September, 2023) All pathways to truly sustainable fuels for the shipping and aviation sectors require green hydrogen (produced from renewables), with some of them requiring carbon dioxide from sustainable sources like direct air capture (DAC), according to a report released today by the SASHA Coalition, facilitated by Opportunity Green. It reveals that there is a lack of policy supporting the production of green hydrogen, which is slowing down demand and discouraging investment, creating a “Green Hydrogen Gap”.

The report is being launched to coincide with London International Shipping Week, where future fuel mix is a hot topic of debate under this year’s theme of decarbonisation. It outlines how governments should prioritise the use of hydrogen and DAC in the aviation and shipping sectors because they lack decent alternatives, and also highlights the need for policy to ensure that these solutions can be rolled out at scale.

While first-mover ambitious companies can step forward voluntarily to send clear, unambiguous and urgent demand signals to green hydrogen producers, their actions will always be in isolation without the backing of policymakers.

‘The Green Hydrogen Gap’ report by Opportunity Green draws on exclusive research by Arup and looks at the policy landscape of green hydrogen and DAC in the UK and the EU. It finds that hydrogen production is behind on projections of where it needs to be to meet the temperature goals of the Paris Agreement and that this is due to a lack of guaranteed demand across the board. The latest environmental policies from both the EU and the UK focus more on supporting biofuels and/or the use of gas (liquefied natural gas) in aviation and shipping respectively, rather than ensuring that green hydrogen – required for full decarbonisation – is prioritised for aviation and shipping.

Aoife O’Leary, CEO of Opportunity Green and Director of the SASHA Coalition, says:

“There is a worrying delay in green hydrogen production, which means that if aviation and shipping don’t make their case clearly and loudly now, they won’t have access to fuels that will truly lead to sustainable decarbonisation. Governments are already prioritising other industries for hydrogen, so without stronger policy, aviation and shipping will be overlooked.”

Kerosene and Heavy Fuel Oil currently meet the bulk of fuel demand for the marine and aviation industries, and it’s estimated that the total consumption of marine fuels account for around 5% of global oil demand.

Sally Prickett, Director of Hydrogen, CCUS and New Fuels in Arup’s Advisory team says:

“Clearly, shipping and aviation will be unable to decarbonise at the scale and pace required without alternative fuels. It’s unlikely that there will be a ‘one solution fits all’ fuel for these sectors, but one thing this research tells us is that green hydrogen will play a critical role in their decarbonisation as a feedstock for the majority of sustainable fuel pathways. Without green hydrogen, these sectors will struggle to find satisfactory zero emissions solutions.”

Policy signals are supporting the uptake of hydrogen-derived fuels at both a UK and EU level, however, these are not on the scale that’s needed to meet Paris targets and are just one component

that will drive the adoption of hydrogen-derived fuels. Policymakers must recognise that green hydrogen will continue to be in limited supply in the coming decades and should therefore be targeted towards sectors – such as shipping and aviation – that have no more efficient routes to decarbonisation.

Scott Pendry, Director of External Relations at zero emission aircraft developer Cranfield Aerospace Solutions, says:

“This report demonstrates that there is no path to a climate neutral aviation system that does not involve hydrogen on a large scale: whether that be as an energy source itself, or as a feedstock for the sustainable aviation fuels of the future. Both government and industry must now start addressing the question of how to scale the production, storage and use of green hydrogen for both SAF and hydrogen aircraft propulsion.”

Nuala Doyle, Policy Officer at the SASHA Coalition, concludes:

“Both shipping and aviation have come under increasing scrutiny for their climate impact, resulting in additional regulation at international, regional and national levels. And regulation will only get stricter over time as the climate crisis worsens.

“We know that the fuels that will fully decarbonise both sectors require green hydrogen and direct air capture. However, current regulations do little to incentivise these – instead the regulations encourage fuels that either are not scalable or are still fossil fuels. Without regulation that aligns with, and incentivises, the goal of zero emissions, companies may find they end up with stranded assets from investment in a fuel that is no longer acceptable to use.”


Notes to editors:

The Green Hydrogen Gap report is available to download now.

In 2018 international aviation accounted for at least 3.5% of global climate warming, and shipping emitted around 3% of global greenhouse gases. However, the climate impact of these sectors could grow significantly if action is not taken – with shipping potentially rising to up to 13% of global emissions by 2050 and if unmitigated, aviation rising to 22%.

The following policy signals are supporting the uptake of hydrogen-derived fuels at both a UK and EU level:

· The UK’s 2019 Clean Maritime Plan states that the vast majority of emission reductions will be achieved through a switch to low or zero-emission fuels, with “two low carbon hydrogen-derived fuels (ammonia and methanol), meeting the vast majority of energy demand by 2050″. · The EU has also recently reached a provisional agreement on its FuelEU Maritime regulation. This includes measures to support the uptake of renewable fuels of non-biological origin (RFNBO) such as a 2% renewable fuels usage target by 2034 if RFNBOs amount to less than 1% in the fuel mix in 2031.

· ReFuel EU Aviation includes a headline target of 6% Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) in 2030, but only 1.2% of that is synthetic fuels (including green hydrogen-derived) – these will rise to a target of 70% SAF by 2050, of which 35% must be synthetic fuels. · The UK government has committed to introducing a SAF mandate from 2025 onwards, which would see at least 10% of jet fuel to be made from sustainable feedstocks by 2030, although it does not currently contain any targets for synthetic fuels. The UK government has recently consulted on introducing a Power-to-Liquid (PtL) mandate, however.

Kerosene and Heavy Fuel Oil (HFO) currently meet the bulk of fuel demand for the marine and aviation industries: HFO accounts for more than 80% of the total fuel consumption in international shipping and the remaining 20% is made up of marine gas oil (MGO), marine diesel oil (MDO), intermediate fuel oil (IFO), and marine fuel oil (MFO). The Skies and Seas Hydrogen-fuels Accelerator (SASHA) Coalition is facilitated by Opportunity Green. The initiative aims to clear and strong messaging around the vital role of green hydrogen and DAC in the decarbonisation of the aviation and shipping sectors, and facilitate discussions between EU- and UK-based policymakers and key industry leaders.