Wärtsilä, Stena, and Methanex Corporation marked five years of successful operation of the methanol-fuelled ferry Stena Germanica. This is the first ship in the world to run on methanol as a marine fuel, signifying a major milestone in the continued shift towards a more sustainable future for commercial shipping in line with the industry’s decarbonization efforts.
The Stena Germanica has been successfully operating with a Wärtsilä engine burning methanol fuel for five years. Copyright: Stena
Stena Germanica was converted to be capable of running on methanol fuel in early 2015 at Remontowa Shipyard in Poland. The 240-meter ferry, with a capacity for 1500 passengers and 300 cars, was retrofitted with a first-of-its-kind fuel-flexible Wärtsilä 4-stroke engine that can run on methanol or traditional marine fuels. The ferry began the world’s first methanol-powered sailings between Gothenburg, Sweden and Kiel, Germany in late-March 2015.
As part of its programme aimed at the enablement of viable sustainable fuels, Wärtsilä is continuing to invest in methanol for marine fuel applications, and further development work and testing procedures are planned.
Starting 1 January 2020, restrictions on sulfur oxides emissions were launched by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) globally. As a marine fuel, methanol is compliant with the IMO’s 2020 regulations by reducing sulfur oxides (SOx) by approximately 99%, and has the ability to meet Tier III Nitrogen oxide (NOx) regulations without exhaust after-treatment. Methanol is already well positioned globally as a marine fuel, as it is available at more than 88 of the world’s top 100 ports.
Methanol also offers a clear pathway towards meeting future carbon reduction targets in 2030 and 2050 when produced from renewable sources.
Stena Germanica’s conversion was a co-operation between Methanex Corporation, Stena Line, Wärtsilä, the Port of Gothenburg, and the Port of Kiel. The project was co-financed by the European Union, and the classification of the conversion to methanol was conducted by Lloyd's Register.
In the five years since the Stena Germanica’s launch, the market for methanol-powered vessels has seen continued growth. Methanex Corporation, through a wholly-owned subsidiary, Waterfront Shipping, operates the world’s largest methanol ocean tanker fleet with 11 vessels. Stena Bulk recently announced a joint-venture with Proman Shipping to build two methanol-powered vessels with delivery scheduled for the beginning of 2022.