Leading global shipping company Maersk is set to launch a container ship powered by bio-methanol this week, marking a significant step in its accelerated decarbonization strategy. The merchant shipping industry, responsible for emissions on par with the airline sector, is actively exploring various approaches to reduce its carbon footprint, including the adoption of methanol gas, ammonia, and hydrogen.
Although these alternative fuels are notably 200% to 400% more costly than traditional fuels, the sheer cargo capacity of these vessels means that the cost increase for individual items, such as a pair of shoes, could amount to just five cents.
Speaking with an audience at the TED Countdown Summit recently, Morten Bo Christiansen, who leads decarbonization at Maersk, said, “There’s this fear, I think, of making the wrong bet or getting it wrong somehow. And of course, in the ideal world, we would spend a decade figuring out all the pros and cons and what is best. But we need to address this problem now.”
Bio-methanol, derived from decomposing plant waste, is an environmentally friendly and combustible gas that can potentially slash CO2 emission and their equivalents by up to 70% on container ships.
Maersk initiated the order for this method-powered ship two years ago and has already committed to purchasing an additional 25 methanol-fueled vessels while retrofitting existing ships with methanol engines and turbines, as reported by Fast Company.
By the close of this decade, Maersk aims to have low-carbon fuels account for 25% of the total cargo capacity across its extensive fleet of 700 vessels. This commitment reflects a broader global trend, with shipping companies around the world currently having 120 vessels on order with low-carbon or carbon-neutral propulsion systems.
Furthermore, retrofitting existing diesel-powered ships with sails is being considered a swift and straightforward method to hasten the decarbonization of the shipping industry.
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