German Maritime Centre commissions a fuel analysis in shipping by ship segment

The study will provide an overview of the fuels and energy sources available for shipping (including the compatibility, availability, and emission potential by ship segment).


The shipping industry is currently having to take a closer look at the fuels and energy forms/sources that can be used now and in the future. It has to implement and meet requirements for reduced pollutant emissions in power generation on ships and for climate-friendly or climate-neutral ship propulsion.

Most ships today are powered by petroleum-based liquid or gaseous fuels, which are widely available internationally along trade routes. Mechanical propulsion is based on internal combustion engines; heat generation is based on steam/water boilers with burners. Fuels for ships are diverse, and the number of alternative fuels/energy sources is continuously increasing. However, the question of “the fuel/energy source of the future” in shipping is currently being addressed independently of the ship segment, the type of ship (tanker, bulk carrier, container ship, etc. and their different sizes). As yet, we have no comprehensive information on future fuel availability at the various bunker locations. A central criterion here is the provision of renewable energy sources. The information on these energy sources has so far been unspecific with regard to their availability and applicability in the respective ship segments.

The study will examine the following from different perspectives – from the point of view of users, fuel producers and energy suppliers, bunker providers, approval authorities, shipyards, suppliers and others:

What contextual (service life, motorisation, route patterns, bunker planning, supply chain) apply in what shipping sector? Which (alternative) fuel can be derived based on this? What fuels and energy forms are currently available on the market? How can these be further developed? What “successive development” results from this? What bunker hubs for the fuels are in existence? What supply networks result from this? Which hubs are suitable for which sector? How flexibly can the infrastructure be adapted to new fuels? How will alternative fuels get onto the ships in question (bunker ships)? What regulatory amendments are necessary/need to be drafted? What expertise is required to use alternative fuels and energy forms in the context of retrofitting or new builds?

The study will be conducted in four work packages/steps

  1. Definition of fuels/energy sources and development/expansion of the catalogue of alternatives
    The aim is to compile an overview of conventional and alternative fuels/energy sources.
  2. Development/expansion of the fuel/energy source catalogue for alternatives.
    The aim is to clearly define and present the ship segments, the fuels used and the market significance of these ship segments. The question to be answered is: why does which segment use which conventional fuel?
  3. Use of alternative energy sources in the shipping segments
  4. Elaboration of options for the targeted development of an alternative fuel portfolio.

The tendering process operated via a non-formal competitive procedure according to Section 50 of the Regulation on Sub-threshold Procurement (UVgO) for which, analogous to the competitive procurement procedure according to the UVgO, individual regulations were used, in particular regarding the execution of the procedure and the evaluation. Ramboll Deutschland GmbH was awarded the contract on 12 February 2021. The period of performance is 4 months.