Building a sustainable bunkering infrastructure for shipping with flexible refuelling vessels and simultaneously boosting the maritime economy, which has been hit by the crisis: The new funding programme of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi – Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Energie) meets exactly these objectives.

Marked the commencement of the new funding programme was the publication of the Directive on Grants for the Construction of Refuelling Vessels for LNG and Sustainable Renewable Fuel Alternatives in Shipping (Refuelling Vessel Directive – or “Betankungsschiff RL” in German) and the official funding announcement of the Federal Office of Economics and Export Control (BAFA – Bundesamt für Wirtschaft und Ausfuhrkontrolle). For the first time, companies can submit funding applications to the BAFA for their planned new bunker vessel construction until 31 January 2022.

LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) is already a technologically mature marine fuel that can significantly reduce air pollutants. In addition, when deployed as a bridge fuel, LNG has advantages for the use of sustainable renewable fuel alternatives with which climate-neutral shipping can succeed. Therefore, the funding programme already takes into account the future conversion towards the use of these fuel alternatives in the new refuelling vessels that are to be supported. Funding is provided in the form of a non-repayable grant to cover the financing gap for investments in the construction of new refuelling vessels for LNG and sustainable renewable fuel alternatives, which are commissioned from a shipyard with an operational facility or a registered branch in Germany. Capital expenditure for the construction of new ships of up to 50 million euros can generally be subsidised with up to 35 percent. Higher capital expenditure of up to EUR 130 million is principally eligible for a subsidy amounting to up to 25 percent. The subsidies are increased by up to 5 percentage points if the refuelling ships are already being prepared for a future conversion to particularly corrosive fuels such as ammonia or methanol.

The BMWi’s new funding programme for the construction of refuelling tanker ships for LNG and sustainable renewable fuel alternatives is part of the implementation of measures for shipping in the federal government’s economic stimulus package. A total of 86 million euros is currently available in the federal budget for the years 2022–2024. Today’s starting signal for the construction of these sustainable and innovative refuelling ships represents another important milestone on the maritime energy transition path towards environmentally and climate-friendly shipping as a whole.

The funding guidelines and the funding announcement can be accessed (in German) via the BAFA website at: