Maersk buying eight methanol-powered container ships

by Inside Logistics Online Staff

In the first quarter of 2024, A.P. Moller – Maersk will introduce the first in a series of eight large ocean-going container vessels capable of being operated on carbon neutral methanol.

The series will replace older vessels, generating annual CO2 emissions savings of around a million tonnes.

The vessels will be built by Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) and have a capacity of approximately 16,000 TEU. The agreement with HHI includes an option for four additional vessels in 2025.

More than 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. As part of Maersk’s ongoing collaboration with customers, corporate sustainability leaders including Amazon, Disney, H&M Group, HP Inc., Levi Strauss & Co., Microsoft, Novo Nordisk, The Procter and Gamble Company, PUMA, Schneider Electric, Signify, Syngenta and Unilever have committed to actively use and scale zero carbon solutions for their ocean transport, with many more expected to follow.

“H&M Group has a responsibility to fight climate change. We have the ambition to become climate neutral by 2030 and climate positive by 2040,” said Leyla Ertur, Head of Sustainability – H&M Group.

“Maersk’s investment in large vessels operating on green methanol is an important innovative step supporting H&M Group’s climate goals within International Freight and we are proud to take part in this pioneer journey.”

Dual fuel

The vessels come with a dual-fuel engine setup. Additional capital expenditure for the dual fuel capability, which enables operation on methanol as well as conventional low sulphur fuel, will be in the range of 10 to 15 percent of the total price.

“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 decarbonize 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,” said Soren Skou, CEO, A.P. Moller – Maersk.

Maersk says 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 will be challenging, as it requires a significant production ramp up of proper carbon neutral methanol production. Maersk is working with suppliers to ensure sufficient fuel will be available.

The methanol propulsion is being developed in collaboration with companies including MAN ES, Hyundai (Himsen) and Alfa Laval. It is a significant scale-up of the technology from the previous size limit of around 2,000 TEU. The vessels will be classed by the American Bureau of Shipping and sail under the Danish flag.

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 4.0- to 4.3-million TEU range, as a combination of Maersk managed and time-chartered vessels.