Maersk's carbon neutral ship poses procurement challenge

17 February 2021

Shipping company A.P. Moller-Maersk has set itself a major procurement challenge by bringing forward plans to develop its first carbon neutral vessel.

The company said the launch of the dual-fuel technology vessel, which can operate either on standard low-sulphur fuel or bio-friendly methanol, would now take place in 2023 – seven years ahead of the original 2030 date.  

This means the company is now looking to source sufficient quantities of methanol to allow such vessels to run in CO2-saving mode earlier than planned.

Henriette Hallberg Thygesen, CEO of fleet and strategic brands at Maersk, said: “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.”

Maersk said high consumer demand to reduce supply chain CO2 emissions had prompted it to speed up its development of carbon neutral vessels.

Around half of the company’s 200 largest customers have set – or are setting  – ambitious science-based carbon targets for their supply chains and the figure is rising, the company said.

Maersk said the capital expenditure impact of developing the new ships was “manageable”.

However the precise type of dual fuel technology would vary between vessels as the company seeks to hedge its bets on which type of low-carbon fuels will prove most viable in the long run.

Søren Skou, Maersk CEO, said: “Our ambition to have a carbon neutral fleet by 2050 was a moonshot when we announced in 2018. Today we see it as a challenging, yet achievable target to reach.”

Maersk has said it aims to cut CO2 emissions by 60% by 2030.

Last year it formed a parternership with Copenhagen Airports, DSV Panalpina, ferry operator DFDS, airline SAS and utility firm Ørsted to develop an industrial-scale production facility in Denmark to produce sustainable fuels including methanol.

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