A.P. Møller-Mærsk, the largest container shipping company in the world, will put the first ever carbon-neutral container ship to sea by 2023. This is seven years ahead of plan.
Shipping accounted for around 2 per cent of energy related CO2 emissions in 2019, which means that the potential and impact of decarbonising international shipping is great.
Therefore, it was good news when the Danish shipping giant Maersk earlier this week announced that it will launch a carbon-neutral vessel by 2023 as it attempts to decarbonise marine operations by 2050. Advances in technology and increasing customer demand for sustainable supply chains have speeded up the ambitious plan.
“Our ambition to have a carbon neutral fleet by 2050 was a moonshot when we announced it in 2018. Today we see it as a challenging, yet achievable target to reach”
– Søren Skou, CEO, A.P. Moller – Maersk
Costumers are pushing for change
Technological advancements are part of the reason why Maersk has fast-tracked its carbon-neutral ambitions. A growing customer demand is another.
Around 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, and the figure is on the rise.
“A.P. Moller – Maersk’s ambition is to lead the way in decarbonising global logistics. Our customers expect us to help them decarbonise their global supply chains, and we are embracing the challenge, working on solving the practical, technical and safety challenges inherent in the carbon neutral fuels we need in the future. Our ambition to have a carbon neutral fleet by 2050 was a moonshot when we announced it in 2018. Today we see it as a challenging, yet achievable target to reach,” said Søren Skou.
Sourcing enough carbon neutral methanol might be a challenge
While the vessel will be able to operate on standard very low sulphur fuel oil (VLSFO), the plan is to operate the vessel on carbon neutral e-methanol or sustainable bio-methanol from day one. The new vessel will have a capacity of around 2000 TEU.
“It will be a significant challenge to source an adequate supply of carbon neutral methanol within our timeline to pioneer this technology. Our success relies on customers embracing this groundbreaking product and strengthened collaboration with fuel manufacturers, technology partners and developers to ramp up production fast enough. We believe our aspiration to put the world’s first carbon neutral liner vessel in operation by 2023 is the best way to kick start the rapid scaling of carbon neutral fuels we will need,” said Henriette Hallberg Thygesen, CEO of Fleet & Strategic Brands, A.P. Moller – Maersk.
Carbon neutral e-methanol is produces through Power-to-X (PtX) technologies. Denmark is already leading the PtX agenda, and now plan to build Europe’s largest PtX facility in the coastal town of Esbjerg. Here, power from offshore wind turbines will be converted to green ammonia for the agriculture industry, district energy for Esbjerg households and green fuel for the shipping industry.
Strengthened collaboration to solve the challenges
A carbon neutral future for shipping requires innovation, test and collaboration across multiple industry partners. Maersk continues to explore several carbon neutral fuel pathways and expects multiple fuel solutions to exist alongside each other in the future. Methanol (e-methanol and bio-methanol), alcohol-lignin blends and ammonia remain the primary fuel candidates for the future.
A key collaboration partner is the Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller Center for Zero Carbon Shipping, an independent, non-profit research and development centre, that works across sectors, organisations, research areas and regulators to accelerate the development and implementation of new energy systems and technologies.
Source and image: A.P. Møller – Mærsk