Maersk Commits to New Carbon-Neutral Shipping Fleet

(Credit: Maersk)

by | Aug 26, 2021

(Credit: Maersk)

Maersk revealed Tuesday that it will add eight large shipping vessels to its fleet capable of running on carbon-neutral methanol. This follows the shipping company’s February announcement that it will have its first carbon neutral vessel on the water by 2023. Back in 2018, Maersk committed to company-wide carbon neutrality by 2050.

Each vessel will cost $175 million, according to Reuters — 10% to 15% more than its conventional counterpart, according to Maersk’s head of fleet technology Ole Graa Jakobsen.

The fleet will be built by Hyundai Heavy Industries with an estimated delivery date of early 2024. Each vessel will have a capacity of approximately 16,000 TEUs and be fitted with a dual engine to accommodate both methanol and low-sulphur fuel oil when the former is unavailable.

Carbon-neutral methanol is produced either with biomass such as crop waste and paper pulp, biogases gathered at landfills and sewage plants, or by sustainably obtaining hydrogen and carbon using methods such as renewably powered electrolysis and carbon capture, respectively and combining them.

According to Maersk’s head of decarbonization Morten Bo Christiansen, carbon-neutral methanol, which is currently in short supply, is more than twice as expensive as conventional fuel. However, Christiansen is optimistic that Maersk, as the world’s largest shipping company, will shape the fuel market with its demand, driving down costs. In the short term, Christiansen is confident that the increased fuel cost will have a negligible effect on the price of its transported goods, suggesting that “the impact on a pair of sneakers is less than five cents.”

While no binding decarbonization regulations have yet been placed on the shipping industry, many of the world’s top corporations — including “more than half of Maersk’s 200 largest customers” — are voluntarily setting zero carbon targets for their supply chains. High-profile clients include Amazon, Disney, H&M Group, HP Inc., Microsoft, Procter and Gamble, and Syngenta.

By contributing writer Austin Tannenbaum

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