LIMITATIONS to biofuel production capacity may hinder uptake in the shipping industry, a report from DNV has found.

DNV’s new whitepaper Biofuels in shipping suggests biofuels can accelerate decarbonisation in the industry, but scarce supply could cause problems for proliferation.

It said current limitations on production capacity may impact short-term supply and create competition with other sectors.

The current global production capacity of sustainable biofuels is around 11 million tonnes of oil equivalent (Mtoe) per year, according to DNV.

It predicted that a sustainable and economically viable supply of biofuels, ranging from 500 to 1300 Mtoe annually, could be achieved by 2050.

However, it said to decarbonise shipping using biofuels (in combination with energy efficiency measures), an annual supply of 250 Mtoe of sustainable biofuels would be needed by 2050.

DNV noted this would represent 20 to 50% of potential global production.

DNV Environment Advisor principal consultant Eirik Ovrum said biofuels are poised to play a notable role in the decarbonisation of shipping.

“Nevertheless, existing constraints on production capacity and competition from other sectors is likely to impact short-term supply to the maritime industry,” he said,

“A major build-up of sustainable production capacity is needed before biofuels can reach their full potential and thus shipping’s goal of decarbonising will need to be achieved in combination with energy efficiency measures as well as use of other low carbon fuels alternatives.”

DNV believes regulatory developments such as the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) are a strong incentive for embracing biofuels, making biofuels and biomass sought after by sectors striving for decarbonisation.

It noted these resources are also currently being used in cooking, water and space heating, as well as in timber and pulp and paper production, posing some challenges to production capacity and availability.