Danish shipping company Maersk has ordered eight ocean-going container ships capable of running on methanol as it works towards helping some of its internationally-renowned clients achieve carbon neutrality.
The vessels are scheduled to be delivered in the first quarter of 2024 by supplier Hyundai Heavy Industries in a contract that includes an option for a further four ships in 2025.
The deal follows a partnership struck between Maersk, REintegrate and European Energy to build a new Danish facility to produce about 10.000 tonnes of carbon-neutral e-methanol that Maersk’s first vessel with the ability to operate on green e-methanol will consume annually. Maersk will work closely with REintegrate and European Energy on the development of the facility.
The ships to be built by Hyundai will have a nominal capacity of around 16,000 20-foot equivalent containers and will replace older vessels, saving an estimated 1 million tonnes of CO2 emissions annually.
For Maersk’s customers like fast-fashion retailer H&M, Amazon, Disney, HP, Levi Strauss, Microsoft, P&G, Puma, and Unilever, the new ships will offer a means to achieve carbon-neutral transportation at scale on the high seas. More than half of Maersk’s 200 largest customers have set – or are in the process of setting – zero carbon targets for their supply chains.
“The time to act is now if we are to solve shipping’s climate challenge,” said Soren Skou, CEO at AP Moller – Maersk.
“This order proves that carbon-neutral solutions are available today across container vessel segments and that Maersk stands committed to the growing number of our customers who look to decarbonise their supply chains.
“Further, this is a firm signal to fuel producers that sizable market demand for the green fuels of the future is emerging at speed,” said Skou.
The new ships will have a dual-fuel engine setup which enables them to run on methanol as well as conventional low-sulphur fuel. Maersk has committed to running the vessels on carbon-neutral e-methanol or sustainable bio-methanol as soon as possible. However, sourcing an adequate amount of carbon-neutral methanol from the day they enter service will be challenging, as it requires a significant increase in proper carbon-neutral methanol production, hence Maersk’s partnership with REintegrate, European Energy and other players in the space.
Leyla Ertur, head of sustainability at H&M, says the company has a responsibility to fight climate change, an ambition to become climate neutral by 2030 and climate positive by 2040.
“We truly believe that our climate actions should be co-created with our partners. Maersk’s investment in large vessels operating on green methanol is an important innovative step supporting H&M Group’s climate goals within International Freight and we are proud to take part in this pioneering journey.”
Unilever’s head of logistics and fulfilment Michelle Grose says the company is committed to accelerating the transition to clean transport solutions – not just in its own operations but along global value chains as it works to achieve net-zero emissions by 2039.
“With logistics and distribution accounting for around 15 per cent of our greenhouse gas emissions footprint, it’s important that we work with partners shifting to lower-carbon fuels. We are proud to partner with Maersk as they pioneer carbon-neutral transportation on the high seas.”
Meanwhile, AP Moller – Maersk CEO of Fleet & Strategic Brands, Henriette Hallberg Thygesen, says the partnership with REintegrate and European Energy could become a blueprint for how to scale green fuel production through collaboration with partners across the industry ecosystem.
“It will provide us with valuable experiences as we progress on our journey to decarbonise our customers’ supply chains. Sourcing the fuels of the future is a significant challenge, and we need to be able to scale production in time.
“This agreement with European Energy/REintegrate brings us on track to deliver on our ambition to have the world’s first container vessel operated on carbon-neutral methanol on the water by 2023.”
Fuel production is expected to start in 2023 and the energy needed for the power-to-methanol production will be provided by a solar farm in Kassø, Southern Denmark.
REintegrate has a proven track record for producing green e-methanol with a test laboratory in Aalborg. The new facility will be its third e-methanol facility, as they are also constructing an e-methanol facility in Skive with startup 2022.
- Main image: @roelandthecreator via Twenty20.