Energy Environment

Maersk to remodel container ships to run on green methanol

With the shipping industry responsible for approximately 3% of global greenhouse gas emissions, there is mounting pressure on the sector.

A.P. Moller – Maersk, the integrated container logistics company, revealed today its groundbreaking plans to retrofit an existing container vessel powered by fossil fuels into a dual-fuel vessel capable of running on green methanol. This pioneering initiative marks the industry’s first-ever retrofit of its kind.

The announcement comes as a follow-up to Maersk’s carbon reduction targets unveiled last year. These targets include achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions across all its businesses and scopes by 2040, reducing emissions per transported container by 50% in its ocean fleet, and achieving a 70% reduction in absolute emissions from fully controlled terminals by 2030.

With the shipping industry responsible for approximately 3% of global greenhouse gas emissions, there is mounting pressure on the sector to address its climate impact. Companies are seeking to decarbonize their supply chains, while regulators and governments are implementing rules to curb emissions from the maritime transport sector. For instance, earlier this year, EU lawmakers reached an agreement to introduce regulations mandating emission reductions in maritime transport, starting as early as 2025.

According to Leonardo Sonzio, Maersk’s Head of Fleet Management and Technology, this latest announcement aims to demonstrate the viability of methanol retrofits as an alternative to constructing new vessels. Sonzio stated, “We have set an ambitious net-zero emissions target for 2040 across the entire business and have taken a leading role in decarbonising logistics. Retrofitting engines to run on methanol is a crucial aspect of our strategy. Through this initiative, we intend to lay the groundwork for future scalable retrofit programs in the industry, thereby expediting the transition from fossil fuels to green alternatives.”

Maersk acknowledges that retrofitting engine components to enable methanol operation is a complex undertaking, forming just one part of the broader retrofit process, which also encompasses new fuel tanks, a fuel preparation room, and a fuel supply system.

The company has entered into an agreement with MAN Energy Solutions to retrofit the engine, with the first retrofit scheduled for 2024. Subsequent retrofits are planned for 2027.

As part of Maersk’s recently announced carbon reduction goals, the company has implemented a principle of only ordering newly built vessels capable of operating on green fuels. Maersk has already placed orders for environmentally friendly ships, including the world’s first carbon-neutral methanol-fueled container ship in July 2021, followed by orders for eight large methanol-powered ocean-going container vessels and six additional large ships.

  • Press release