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BP Backs New Fuel for Ships Made Using Everyday Garbage

(Bloomberg) —

BP Plc is investing in a California-based startup that will use uneaten food and other waste to make low emission fuel.

The oil giant’s corporate venture capital arm, bp ventures, is putting $10 million into WasteFuel, which converts municipal and agricultural waste into sustainable energy, including biomethanol for shipping.

“BP is in action to produce more biofuels, aiming to deliver around 100,000 barrels-per-day by 2030, to help decarbonize transport,” said Philipp Schoelzel, vice president of next generation biofuels at the company.

The shipping industry carries more than 80% of world trade and is responsible for almost 3% of human-made CO2 emissions. High-level talks are currently taking place at the London headquarters of the sector’s global regulator, where new emission-cutting goals are expected to be decided on by the end of the week.

See also: Nations Haggle Over Targets to Cut Shipping’s Huge Emissions

Methanol is one of the main contenders for replacing the oil-derived marine fuels on which the world’s merchant fleet currently relies. It can significantly cut overall CO2 emissions, depending on how it’s made, and has already attracted major investments from shipping giants A.P. Moller-Maersk A/S and CMA CGM. However, it is less energy-dense than oil, meaning comparatively more would need to be stored onboard.

WasteFuel has picked Dubai for its first project location, the startup’s CEO Trevor Neilson said in an interview, without specifying details on future production volumes. There are plans for further expansion and the firm has a memorandum of understanding with BP that the oil giant will take biomethanol that’s made. BP will also work with WasteFuel in improving how much biomethanol can be produced from waste. 

“I think of the world’s waste as an enormous resource — a modern day, green version of what Jean Paul Getty discovered in Saudi Arabia,” Neilson said. “The demand in shipping is going to be massive.”

Other investors in WasteFuel have included Maersk, Marc Benioff’s TIME Ventures and philanthropist Aileen Getty.

“While there is broad demand for biomethanol, we believe that the primary use of WasteFuel will be for shipping,” Neilson said. 

© 2023 Bloomberg L.P.

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