The world’s largest container shipping company, AP Møller Maersk, has invested $7 billion (€5.95 billion) in order to advance its decarbonisation strategy. Maersk ordered eight container vessels from Hyundai Heavy Industries that will be able to operate on carbon-neutral e-methanol fuel.
According to Maersk, eight vessels will enable its container fleet to cut CO2 emissions by up to 1 million tonnes annually.
The first ship will be delivered in 2024, as Maersk continues to retire craft reaching their end of life and moves towards becoming a carbon-neutral operation.
The change is supported by the fact that many of Maersk’s most important clients are looking to make their own supply chains less polluting. “More than half of Maersk’s 200 largest customers have set – or are in the process of setting – ambitious science-based or zero carbon targets for their supply chains,” the shipping and logistics company said in a statement.
Initially, the new ships will initially be powered with a dual fuel system, allowing them to run on e-methanol and on the existing standard ‘very low sulphur fuel oil’ (VLSFO) as stipulated by the International Maritime Organisation from January 2020.
“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 Maersk CEO Søren Skou.
Shipping is responsible for approximately 3% of global carbon emissions, rising from 2.76% at 962 million tonnes to 2.89% at 1,056 million tonnes between 2012 and 2018.
In order to make its move to e-methanol fuel feasible, Maersk signed a supply agreement with Danish renewables firm European Energy, whose subsidiary REIntegrate is building an e-methanol production facility to fulfil the demand.
Although chemically identical to methanol, e-methanol is produced by using sustainable sources such as using wind power, capturing CO2 from biomass and the air, and producing hydrogen through water electrolysis. However, e-methanol production is currently low and expensive.