Danish container shipping giant Maersk has revealed plans to add to its fleet a total of eight large ocean-going container vessels capable of being operated on carbon-neutral methanol.
The first newbuild in the series will be completed in the first quarter of 2024.
South Korean shipbuilder Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) has been contracted to build the eight ships which will have a nominal capacity of about 16,000 TEU.
The agreement with HHI includes an option for four additional units in 2025.
The series will replace older vessels, generating annual CO2 emissions savings of around 1 million tonnes and offering “truly carbon neutral” transportation at scale on the high seas.
The vessels come with a dual-fuel engine setup. Additional capital expenditure (CAPEX) for the dual-fuel capability, which enables operation on methanol as well as conventional low sulphur fuel, will be in the range of 10-15% of the total price, enabling Maersk to take a significant leap forward in its commitment to scale carbon-neutral solutions and lead the decarbonisation of container logistics, the company said.
“The time to act is now, if we are to solve shipping’s climate challenge,” CEO, A.P. Moller – Maersk, Soren Skou, pointed out.
“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.”
Maersk – which is a member of the Methanol Institute — explained it will operate the vessels on carbon-neutral e-methanol or sustainable bio-methanol as soon as possible.
Sourcing an adequate amount of carbon-neutral methanol from day one in service is expected to be challenging, as it requires a significant production ramp up of proper carbon neutral methanol production, for which Maersk continues to engage in partnerships and collaborations with relevant players.
“To us, this is the ideal large vessel type to enable sustainable, global trade on the high seas in the coming decades and from our dialogue with potential suppliers, we are confident we will manage to source the carbon neutral methanol needed,” CEO, Fleet & Strategic Brands, A.P. Moller – Maersk, Henriette Hallberg Thygesen commented.
The vessels will be designed to have a flexible operational profile, enabling them to perform efficiently across many trades. They will feature a methanol propulsion configuration developed in collaboration with makers including MAN ES, Hyundai (Himsen) and Alfa Laval which represents a significant scale-up of the technology from the previous size limit of around 2,000 TEU.
The shipowner also said that the eco-friendly newbuilds will be classed by the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) and sail under the Danish flag.
Almost two months ago, the container shipping heavyweight also ordered a feeder vessel with a dual- engine technology enabling it to sail on either methanol or traditional very low sulphur fuel.
The shipbuilding deal was signed with Korean shipbuilder Hyundai Mipo Dockyard (HMD).
Expected to be operational in 2023, the feeder will be 172 meters long and will sail in the network of Sealand Europe, a Maersk subsidiary, on the Baltic shipping route between Northern Europe and the Bay of Bothnia.
Maersk earlier said it would switch its ships to zero-emission alternatives to fossil fuels rather than choosing LNG as a bridging fuel for the company’s fleet.
All future Maersk-owned newbuilds are to be installed with a dual-fuel technology to enable both carbon-neutral operations and operation on standard VLSFO.
The new vessels come as part of Maersk’s ongoing fleet renewal program and will replace tonnage of more than 150,000 TEU which is reaching end-of-life and leaving the Maersk-managed fleet between 2020 and Q1 2024.
Maersk further reiterates its strategy of maintaining a fleet capacity in the 4 to 4.3 million TEU range, as a combination of Maersk-managed and time-chartered vessels.
Currently, the carrier operates more than 700 vessels globally.