The commercial shipping has taken a lot of criticism in recent years over its massive output of harmful carbon emissions. Proposed solutions to the problem have ranged from solar-diesel hybrids, to pure-solar car-haulers, to massive sailing ships … but AGA and Viking Cruise Lines may have a more “immediate” solution.

In a bid to cut harmful CO2 emissions by as much as 30%, Viking Line’s newest cruise ship will skip conventional maritime fuels in favor of liquefied natural gas (LNG). The 700 ft cruise ship, called “Viking Grace”, will be fueled by LNG from AGA Gas, and represents “major environmental gains in comparison to traditional maritime fuel,” according to Jan Bäckvall, the head of Europe North in Linde responsible for AGA.

Bäckvall and AGA believe that converting large ships like the Viking Grace to LNG can help to address concerns about carbon emissions associated with commercial shipping. Indeed, he goes on to say that, “for Baltic shipping, this can be the primary solution in the future”.

Granted, Bäckvall has quite a bit to gain if large-scale shifts to LNG eventually happen, but it’s hard to argue with some of AGA’s facts. For example, AGA claims that their LNG blend contains no sulphur or heavy metals, and reduces carbon emissions by 20-30% compared to conventional petroleum fuels. LNG also meets International Maritime Organization (IMO) directives cut sulfur content in maritime fuels to not more than 0.1% by 2015. In addition, AGA’s LNG blend complies with already-written future requirements to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions.

Enough with percentages, though – in terms of real numbers, a ship like the Viking Grace uses about 60 tons of fuel PER DAY, and there are hundreds (if not thousands) of massive ships like the Viking Grace cruising around the Earth’s oceans every day. Cutting their emissions by 30%, then, is equivalent to the same ship burning about 20 FEWER tons of fuel each day. The Viking Grace is only the first step towards a greener fleet, of course, but Viking and AGA hope it’s it’s the first of many. “The cooperation between AGA and Viking Line means that the guidelines for the management of a new fuel will be developed. This paves the way for a new infrastructure for Swedish shipping where LNG is of great future importance,” says Michael Backman, CEO of Viking Line Abp.

Here’s to hoping this shipping trend catches on, then.

Source: AGA, via NGV Global.