Assessment framework

The Zero Carbon Fuel Monitor framework is structured into five main supply chain stages across the lifetime of a fuel, from natural resources to vessel propulsion, as the diagram shows below. 

Assessment criteria

The assessment process engages three criteria: Technologyreadiness (TRL), Investmentreadiness (IRL), and Community readiness levels (CRL). A fuel is evaluated based on fifteen ratings throughout the supply chain for TRL. For IRL and CRL, the onboard storage and handling stage is merged with the propulsion stage to form an overall ship stage, resulting in a fuel receiving twelve ratings. 

Technology Readiness Level (TRL)

The technology readiness level indicates the maturity of a solution within the research spectrum from the conceptual stage to being marine application-ready. It is based on the established model used by NASA  and other agencies and institutes, using a 9-level scale. 

Investment Readiness Level (IRL)

The investment readiness level indicates the commercial maturity of a marine solution on the spectrum from initial business ideas to reliable financial investments. It addresses all the parameters required for commercial success based on work by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) . The 6-level scale summarises the solution's commercial status and is determined by the available evidence in the market. 

At each level, the assessment is made across several indicators that are key for successful commercialisation: 

  • Technical performance 
  • Financial proposition – costs 
  • Financial proposition – revenue 
  • Industry supply chain and skills 
  • Market opportunities 
  • Company maturity 

Community Readiness Level (CRL)

The community readiness level indicates the societal maturity of a marine solution in terms of acceptability and adoption by both people and organisations. It is gauged on the spectrum from societal challenge to widespread adoption. CRL is based on the work by ARENA2 and Innovation Fund Denmark3, adapted to a 6-level scale. 

At each level, the assessment is made across several indicators that are key for successful adoption: 

  • Regulatory (safety)
  • Regulatory (environment)
  • Community acceptance
  • Sustainability (lifecycle analysis or LCA)
  • Sustainability (Environment)
  • Sustainability (Social-economic)

Supply chain

The assessment is carried out for a selection of the most promising zero-carbon fuels across the entire fuel supply chain from resource through to vessel propulsion. Resources refer to the basic natural resources and feedstocks from which fuels are produced.  The production stage includes all processing of resources and intermediate products used to create fuels. 

While Zero-Carbon Fuel Monitor assesses each area of the supply chain separately, some assessments are carried out at the onboard ship level, comprising the combined fuel storage, handling, and propulsion areas. 

Fuel categories

Zero-carbon fuels can be produced in a range of different ways.  LR has made assessments of fuels in three main categories of the production process. 

  • E-fuels (electrofuels, also referred to as re-electrofuels): Fuels produced from sustainable natural resources that use hydrogen as a carrier or as the final output. 
  • Blue fuels (natural gas with carbon capture, also referred to as ng-fuels): Fuels produced from natural gas with CCS produce low-carbon hydrogen as a carrier or as the final output. 
  • Bio-fuels (sustainable biomass-derived fuels): Fuels aim to be net zero by releasing an amount of carbon dioxide equivalent to that captured in creating the biomass resource material. 

The generic fuel production processes used to develop the assessments are given in the diagrams below. 




Overview of readiness levels

Technology Readiness Levels (TRL)
  1. Basic principle observed
  2. Technology concept formulated
  3. First assessment feasibility concept and technologies
  4. Validation of integrated prototype in test environment
  5. Testing prototype in user environment
  6. Pre-production product
  7. Low scale pilot production demonstrated
  8. Manufacturing fully tested, validated and qualified
  9. Production and product fully operational 


Investment Readiness Levels (IRL)
  1. Hypothetical commercial proposition
  2. Commercial trial, small scale
  3. Commercial scale up
  4. Multiple commercial applications
  5. Market competition driving widespread development
  6. Bankable asset class 
Community Readiness Levels (CRL)
  1. Stakeholder support or opposition is hypothetical
  2. Stakeholder support or opposition is becoming understood as a result of pilots
  3. Early-stage solution formation to tackle stakeholder issues
  4. Evidence becoming widespread, resulting in initial stakeholder acceptance
  5. Increased transparency and formalised processes driving momentum for change
  6. Processes well-defined to resolve stakeholder issues, with widespread stakeholder acceptance 

Further development

The Zero Carbon Fuel Monitor will be continuously updated, refined and developed as the outlook changes. We appreciate all comments, contributions and suggestions that help develop the concept and increase its impact in achieving zero carbon shipping by 2050.