IN 2023, 298 ships with alternative fuel propulsion were ordered globally – a year-on-year increase of 8%, according to the latest stats from DNV’s Alternative Fuels Insight (AFI) platform

Last year also saw big gains for methanol, with an increase of orders for methanol-enabled ships.

There were 138 orders for methanol ships, more than orders for LNG-powered ships (there were 130 orders for these).

Also, there were 11 orders for ships that can run on ammonia, and there are more in the pipeline.

Through its AFI platform, DNV registers the industry’s efforts related to newbuild vessels and retrofitting with 298 orders for vessels able to run on alternative fuels logged in 2023, and a total of 1281 ships overall.

DNV CEO maritime Knut Ørbeck-Nilssen said the growing demand for alternative-fuelled vessels speaks volumes.

“These orders send pivotal signals to fuel providers and other important partners on shipping’s decarbonisation journey,” he said.

“While it is clear that the maritime fuel technology transition is already underway, we now need to ensure the fuels powering these engines become available.”

Mr Ørbeck-Nilssen said it is crucial to emphasise that focusing solely on fuels may divert our focus from achieving a significant impact in this decade.

“What is required are concrete measures that actively lower emissions,” he said.

“Energy efficiency initiatives can yield decarbonization outcomes both now and leading up to 2030.”

According to the AFI platform, by a small margin, methanol proved the most popular alternative fuel choice in 2023 with 138 ships ordered (excluding methanol carriers), a steep increase compared to the 35 ordered to run on this fuel the year before. The dominating segment for this fuel was container ships (106), followed by bulk carriers (13) and car carriers (10).

The second alternative fuel of choice in 2023 was LNG with 130 vessels ordered, down from 222 in 2022. However, when looking at newbuilds alone LNG would be in the lead as a considerable proportion of methanol orders were for retrofits. Last year also saw LNG finally break the 1000 vessel barrier (excluding LNG carriers), showing the fuel’s continued importance in the maritime energy transition. In 2023, the containers segment was the most active (48) for LNG, followed by car carriers (40), and tankers (30). The year also saw the first orders for vessels due to run on ammonia (11) come through, whereas with just five orders, hydrogen was a less popular choice compared to the previous year (18).

DNV maritime advisory business principal consultant Martin Wold said: “Investments in alternative-fuelled vessels have been heavily driven by the container and car carrier newbuild boom over the last three years. It remains to be seen if this trend continues into 2024.”