The container ship Maersk Murcia is moored in the port of Gothenburg, Sweden, on August 24, 2020.
JONATHAN NACKSTRAND | AFP | fake images
Shipping giant Maersk said Wednesday it would launch a carbon-free ship by 2023, seven years ahead of schedule, as it tries to reduce its environmental footprint and reach a net zero carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions target by 2050.
According to the Danish firm, the world’s largest container shipping company, the ship will be powered by carbon-neutral e-methanol or sustainable bio-methanol, although it will still be able to run on standard Very Low Sulfur Fuel Oil (VLSFO) if it is required.
In simple terms, “carbon neutral” means that CO2 emissions are offset by an equal amount of CO2 removal. If something is carbon negative, it means that more CO2 is removed from the atmosphere than is emitted.
Looking ahead, all new Maersk-owned vessels will be able to run on carbon-neutral fuels, and the company states that it will “install dual-fuel engines in future builds.” The word “new construction” refers to a boat that has been recently built or is under construction.
The environmental footprint of shipping is significant. According to the International Energy Agency, in 2019 international shipping, a crucial gear in the global economy, was responsible for approximately 2% of “global energy-related CO2 emissions”.
Speaking to CNBC’s “Street Signs Europe” on Wednesday morning, Maersk’s head of decarbonization explained how several things had “gone in the right direction” when it came to accelerating development of the methanol-fueled vessel.
“We have learned a lot as a company about the opportunities that exist, the technology has developed,” said Morten Bo Christiansen.
“And last but not least, our customers clearly expect this from us, they need us to help them decarbonize their supply chains.”
When asked how his company would get enough carbon-neutral fuels to meet its future needs, Christiansen said it was a “chicken and egg situation.”
“There are a lot of projects on the drawing board, but not a lot of willing buyers,” he said. “With this, we are trying to make a statement that we want to get this ball rolling, we want to start producing these fuels and putting them on the market so that the market can scale.”
Maersk, he explained, was in dialogue with various partners regarding this issue, although he was not yet ready to name who he was dealing with.
“But definitely … this will be the big challenge: getting enough supplies of carbon-neutral fuels,” he added.
Christiansen went on to state that Maersk customers “would have access to a product that represents a concept that is adequately scalable.”
“It also means that they will have an idea of the additional cost that this will add,” he said.
Noting that while the company was still unsure regarding price points, Christiansen added: “What we do know is that when we look at end-use products, a pair of sneakers or a flat-screen TV, then … the impact on those products would be measured in cents instead of dollars. “
“So from that perspective, it would seem like something that can really be absorbed and hopefully scale the decarbonization of our customers’ supply chains.”