Adoption of Biofuels for the Marine Shipping Industry: A Long-Term Price and Scalability Assessment

Eric Tan, Kylee Harris, Stephen Tifft, Darlene Steward, Chris Kinchin

Research output: NRELTechnical Report


One of the biggest challenges in the 21st Century is transforming the transportation sector into a low carbon-based sustainable industry, including maritime shipping. Bioenergy has an essential role in the transition to move maritime shipping toward carbon neutrality. Biomass-derived fuels can undoubtedly play a crucial role in the future of marine propulsion that as renewable alternatives can offer potential synergistic benefits when blended with petroleum fuels. With inherently zero- or low-sulfur and renewable carbon sources, biofuels will help mitigate marine shipping sulfur emissions, improve overall emission profiles, and enable the decarbonization transition. As biofuel for marine propulsion is still at its nascent stage, knowledge gaps exist, including the life cycle environmental impacts, compatibility of biofuel blending with conventional marine fuels, scalability, and cost. This study assessed the biofuel availability and cost aspects for marine use and was supported by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration (MARAD) Office of Environment to project the long-term price and annual biofuel production capacity potential for marine propulsion in the United States. The study will shed light on the prospect of biofuel adoption for the maritime shipping industry.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages214
StatePublished - 2021

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/TP-5100-78237


  • marine biofuel
  • maritime
  • shipping


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