ZVT Radio: Michele Acciaro

Availability and prices of alternative fuels for shipping

Listen to the interview with Michele Acciaro, Assistant Professor of Maritime Logistics at Kühne Logistics University or read the transcript below.


Michele Acciaro, Assistant Professor of Maritime Logistics at Kühne Logistics University, welcome to Zero Vision Tool radio, interviewing at the Motorways of the Sea conference in Gothenburg. Can you please introduce yourself and your role at Motorways of the Sea?

I was invited to the Motorways of the Sea conference because I have had an interest in green shipping for many years and have always been fascinated by the uptake of alternative fuels and particularly the economics and logistics of alternative fuels for shipping. That is why I am here at the conference, to provide my insight on the future price and availability of those fuels.

Can you tell us a bit about your speech on the topic of ‘Availability and Prices of Alternative Fuels for Shipping’?

In the discussion we focused first of all on what is going to happen in the short term, say for example in the next five years, when mostly we will see the development and uptake of scrubbers in the shipping sector as well as a shift with the upcoming regulation on the use of distillates versus HFO. In my presentation, I also looked at the medium term, when there will be the possibility of exploring other alternative fuels… in the presentation I focused on biofuels, LNG and methanol, which I think in the medium term are the most promising alternative fuels.

What is your view on sustainability and transportation when the cost for transportation must be as low as possible?

It is true that sometimes sustainability and the economic imperative, the bottom line, do not seem to work very well together. This is true for many types of regulations such as regulations that typically impose a cost on the industry. I think that the sulphur regulation that will soon come into force is going to be very relevant for the ECA region and later on globally, as this is something that is definitely going to have an impact on costs for the industry. So there is a trade-off there.

On the other hand, I think these regulations also offer opportunities for players who are more forward-looking. They might gain a competitive advantage by finding better ways to comply with the upcoming regulations. So when the regulation is uniformly enforced, and of course enforcement is a very important issue for sulphur regulation, the players that are more forward-looking will have an advantage. In that sense, I think that regulations can trigger innovation and the development of new technology also incorporating sustainability. We also have other issues in sustainability – I think that the most debated one is CO2 emissions – that also have an impact on the bottom line. And this type of innovation is innovation in which the market can play a bigger role.

As an Assistant Professor of Maritime Logistics, what do you see as the hot topic in the field of maritime logistics?

Having just delivered a presentation on alternative fuels, I think that quite a lot is happening there, especially in shipping. There is a lot of emphasis on the development of LNG and the logistics of LNG, which makes a very big difference to the price and attractiveness of these alternative fuels. And what else is very interesting – and I am happy that this has been discussed so extensively at the conference – is methanol, which because of its versatility and relatively low cost in terms of conversion or use for a vessel offers quite an interesting perspective. In this case as well, the logistics of this alternative fuel and the way it will be distributed and made available is crucial to its success. I like to think that this is definitely a hot topic at the moment in the field of maritime logistics.

What are your views on future innovation in terms of transportation?

Innovation is one of the solutions that we have for combining the bottom line issues faced by the shipping industry and a much more proactive and sustainable future for the industry. Many of the solutions to the sustainability issues are achieved through innovation and I think that it is very important that innovation is fostered and stimulated, also with public money and support, to really bridge the gap and allow the industry to become cleaner and cleaner. I think that is desirable for the future of the world.

What is your experience of the conference so far?

It has been a most enjoyable experience. I have learned a lot and met a lot of people with in-depth knowledge of the technical aspects of the industry who are also very aware of the critical challenges that the industry is facing in Europe at the moment. I have learned a lot from the presentations and discussions, so it is a very good event, and it was also nice to be back in Gothenburg, which is a city I like.