Maersk secures green e-methanol for the world’s first container vessel operating on carbon neutral fuel


Shipping giant Maersk has inked a deal with Danish renewable energy firm European Energy for the supply of low carbon methanol to fuel its first 'carbon-neutral' vessel, which aims to set sail in 2023.

Under the agreement announced yesterday, REintegrate - a subsidiary of European Energy - plans to develop a new facility to produce 10,000 tonnes of e-methanol each year to supply the A.P. Moller-Maersk vessel. 

The facility aims to begin producing fuel in 2023 to coincide with the launch date of the ship, harnessing renewable energy and CO₂ emissions recycled from biogas plants to create the e-methanol, which REintegrate claims is carbon neutral and can be used as a fuel for ships, planes and heavy road transport.

Henriette Hallberg Thygesen, CEO of fleet and strategic brands at Maersk, said the deal puts the company on track to operate the "world's first" carbon-neutral container vessel by 2023.

"This type of partnership could become a blueprint for how to scale green fuel production through collaboration with partners across the industry ecosystem, and it will provide us with valuable experiences as we are progressing on our journey to decarbonise our customers' supply chains," she said.

The global shipping industry accounts for nearly three per cent of global emissions and is likely to account for a much higher percentage by 2050 unless the sector transitions to greener fuels and technologies to power vessels. In 2018, the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the global sector ships by 50 per cent by 2050, a target which attracted widespread criticism from climate campaigners for lacking ambition.

Maersk, however, has set a target to slash its CO₂ emissions by 60 per cent by 2030, by which time it aims to be operating a fully carbon-neutral fleet, putting it on a pathway to achieving net zero by 2050. The company first announced its plans for the carbon-neutral vessel in February 2021 and aims to see it set sail within two years on the Baltic shipping route between Northern Europe and Sweden.

Knud Erik Anderson, CEO of European Energy, said the deal announced last week would make the firm the first in Denmark e-methanol at such a large scale. The energy needed for the power-to-methanol production is set to be provided by a solar farm in Kassø, Southern Denmark.

"While renewable energy is becoming more and more common in the energy mix of electricity consumption, this is one of the first steps in heavy transportation towards using 100 per cent renewable energy," he said. " This agreement marks a milestone in the journey towards green transition in the shipping industry."

REintegrate currently operates a e-methanol test laboratory in Aalborg, while another facility is currently being constructed in Skive with a view to launching in 2022. The e-methanol facility being developed to serve Maersk will therefore be the firm's third.