Shortsea vessel owner and operator UECC has begun a fuel switch programme for carmakers enabling them to decarbonise the delivery of their finished vehicles by ocean.

Called UECC Sail for Change, the programme offers carmakers the opportunity to move their vehicles on vessels powered with renewable fuels. The company said Sail for Change is the opportunity for customers to make a direct positive impact on their maritime supply chain by facilitating a fuel change.


Auto Advance, one of UECC’s multi-fuel LNG battery hybrid PCTCs

The first major initiative UECC is introducing as part of the programme – Green Gas Month – is to deploy liquified bioLNG on all five of its car carriers, primarily supplied by Titan Clean Fuels. The vessels – two dual-fuel LNG pure car and truck carriers (PCTCs) and three multi-fuel LNG battery hybrid PCTCs – will refuel at their regular berth at Zeebrugge port, with supply coming from the Fluxys terminal.

UECC said the feedstock used for the biofuel, which is derived from manure, will reduce carbon emissions more than any other previous alternative fuel assessed. The company said that in the first month alone well-to-wake emissions would be reduced by 8,000 metric tonnes of CO2 equivalent (CO2e). UECC’s initial commitment is for 1,000 metric tonnes, which it intends to increase thereafter. 

Using UECC Sail for Change, carmakers can opt for the biofuel switch, which can take place on board the vessel.

“This programme provides our customers with the opportunity to support a fuel change that directly lowers the emissions of the vessel undertaking the transport work,” said Daniel Gent, energy and sustainability manager at UECC. “In the beginning, we undergo target alignment where we decide on routes or even specific models that the customer wishes to decarbonise. Then we set about calculating the alternative fuel change required to deliver the emission reduction. The great thing about this is that it is scalable to the customers’ needs and they can start as big or as small as they desire.”


Daniel Gent, UECC’s energy and sustainability manager

Gent went on to say that it is important that coloaded cargo can always be decarbonised, a major benefit enabling mass balance within the UECC ecosystem.

Tank to wake savings
UECC has been pursuing the reduction in emissions from its vessel fleet for a number of years. Last week it announced that its investments in alternative fuels were showing results and that it was on track to exceed its goal of reducing emissions from operations by 45% by 2030 after more than doubling usage across its fleet last year. It boosted the use of ISCC-certified sustainable biofuel B100 on both owned and time-chartered ships to 14,000 metric tonnes last year, up from 6,500 metric tonnes in 2022.

The said achieved a total tank-to-wake emissions reduction of over 60,000 tonnes across its 14-vessel fleet in 2023, of which it is estimated increased biofuel use accounted for 40,000 tonnes, with the remainder coming from LNG. This was a near-250% increase on the emissions cut of 24,200 tonnes achieved in 2022. The latest initiative will build on those results.

“This initiative will take us to the next level,” said Gent. “There are rightly questions (including those posed by ourselves) about the future of LNG. We have been clear from the outset that LNG is an excellent transitional fuel, and this move shows the leadership to take us through that transition and into the next phase. The holistic impact on our emissions profile will be significant as the well to wake credentials of the fuel in question are so good.”

Sustainable gains
UECC launched its first dual-fuel LNG car carrier in 2016 and in 2020 it introduced the first biofuel to its vessel service. In June of that year BMW purchased CO2 emissions reduction services from UECC. In June 2021 UECC made the first use of residual biofuel from animal products and in January 2022 used the first residual biofuel made from a mixture of fatty acid methyl esters (Fame). The fuel has physical properties similar to those of conventional diesel but is non-toxic and biodegradable.

In June last year UECC collaborated on a biofuel trial with NYK, the joint owner of UECC (along with Wallenius Lines), and GoodFuels. The biofuel provider delivered a B30 blend biofuel and 470 tonnes of very low sulphur fuel oil (VLSFO), as well as sustainable biofuel, for the vehicle carrier Emerald Leader at the port of Vlissingen, Netherlands. NYK provided technical support throughout the operation, working closely with UECC to monitor the biofuel’s performance on the vessel.

In January this year UECC opened a CO2 registry. Gent said that when bringing in a fuel change UECC needed to be able to deliver something to its customers. The registry is audited and verified by an independent ISCC auditor.

“Therefore, we set about creating an independent CO2 registry, in which we record and track fuel changes from the very origin of the feedstock, right through to consumption of the fuel,” he said. “This gives full traceability to our customers, and enables us to provide something tangible to our customers which can be shared with internal and external stakeholders alike.” 

In March this year UECC started collaborating with industry partners including Lloyd’s Register Fobas, engine maker Wartsila and biofuel supplier ACT Group to critically assess a cashew nut shell liquid (CNSL)-based biofuel

Read more about UECC’s efforts to cut emissions from the transport by ocean of finished vehicles.