IEA Drives Progress with Expert Gathering on Low-emission Fuels for Maritime and Aviation Sustainability


In a significant step towards the decarbonization of international shipping and aviation, the International Energy Agency (IEA) convened an expert workshop on October 4. The workshop brought together a diverse group of experts from government, industry, research, and civil society to discuss the pivotal role of low-emission fuels in reducing greenhouse gas emissions from these critical sectors.

This gathering was attended by approximately 20 in-person participants, along with 17 online attendees representing 13 countries. Among the participants were senior government officials, subject matter experts from United Nations bodies, industry associations, academia, think tanks, members of the Transport Project Partnership and representatives of relevant Technology Collaboration Programmes.

The workshop highlighted the unanimous recognition of low-emission fuels as the primary technological solution to curb emissions in international maritime and aviation. Given the high energy demands of long-distance transport in these sectors, direct electrification is currently deemed feasible mainly for short-distance and smaller vessels and aircraft. Consequently, increasing the adoption of low-emission fuels such as sustainable biofuels, hydrogen, and hydrogen-based fuels is considered crucial to decarbonize shipping and aviation operations.

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A roadmap towards sustainability was unveiled, projecting the rise of sustainable bioenergy, low-emission hydrogen, and hydrogen-based fuels from less than 1% of energy consumption in these sectors today to nearly 15% by 2030 and a remarkable 80% by 2050. This roadmap, known as the 2023 Net Zero Roadmap, underscores the need for substantial investments, supportive policies for production and distribution infrastructure, and the creation of a robust market for low-emission fuels to meet the growing demand.

The workshop featured in-depth discussions on key priorities for scaling up low-emission fuel production. This included addressing challenges associated with increased production while ensuring the sustainability of supply chains on a lifecycle basis. Participants also delved into the potential demand for various low-emission fuels in shipping and aviation. Recognizing the complexities involved, they stressed the importance of enhanced coordination among fuel suppliers, users, and technology developers, as well as cooperation between local, national, and international authorities overseeing aviation and maritime operations.

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The workshop served as a vital platform for updating and expanding the analysis of low-emission fuels. It built upon the insights presented in the recently published update to the Net Zero Roadmap, Energy Technology Perspectives 2023, and Tracking Clean Energy Progress. For those keen on tracking technological developments related to low-emission fuels in aviation and shipping, the ETP Clean Energy Technology Guide is a valuable resource.

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