The container shipping behemoth has committed to building eight carbon-neutral methanol-fuelled container vessels, with an option for four more vessels
Denmark-headquartered AP Møller-Mærsk said it had placed the newbuild order with Hyundai Heavy Industries for a series of up to a dozen 16,000-TEU container vessels.
Eight of the vessels are part of the initial, firm order, with the first of the vessels set for delivery in Q1 2024. An option for four additional vessels could be confirmed for 2025, the company said.
Mærsk said the dual-fuel vessels would replace older vessels, generating annual CO2 emissions savings of around a million tonnes for the company.
The carbon neutrality of the vessels, tied to the availabilty of carbon-neutral methanol, is not guaranteed, and Mærsk said sourcing the fuel would be "challenging," initially.
"Mærsk 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, for which Mærsk continues to engage in partnerships and collaborations with relevant players," the company said.
The vessels’ methanol propulsion configuration was developed in collaboration with MAN ES, Hyundai (Himsen) and Alfa Laval and represents a scale-up of the technology from the previous size limit of around 2,000 TEU, according to Mærsk.
With their dual-fuel engines, the alternative fuel for Mærsk’s new series of vessels is "conventional, low-sulphur fuel," according to the company. Added capital expenditure for dual-fuel engines was estimated to be somewhere between 10-15% of the vessels’ base price.
Mærsk pointed to its customer base as an impetus for the push to lower the emissions associated with freight transport, saying that more than 100 of its 200 biggest clients have set or are currently setting zero-carbon targets for their supply chains.
"This is a firm signal to fuel producers that sizeable market demand for the green fuels of the future is emerging at speed,” AP Moller-Mærsk chief executive Soren Skou said.
The vessels’ carbon neutrality is also tied to customer fuel decisions, with Mærsk noting that the vessels will be designed to have a "flexible" operational profile to accomodate pricing considerations.
“We are very excited about this addition to our fleet, which will offer our customers unique access to carbon-neutral transport on the high seas while balancing their needs for competitive slot costs and flexible operations," AP Moller-Mærsk Fleet and Strategic Brands chief executive Henriette Hallberg Thygesen said. "And from our dialogue with potential suppliers, we are confident we will manage to source the carbon-neutral methanol needed.”
The vessels will be classed by the American Bureau of Shipping and sail under the Danish flag.