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Maersk to pioneer first container vessel conversion to methanol dual-fuel engine; working with MAN ES

As a first in the shipping industry, A.P. Moller - Maersk (Maersk) will retrofit an existing container ship to a dual-fuel methanol powered vessel. The first engine retrofit in the industry is scheduled to be conducted medio 2024 and it is the intent to replicate on sister vessels when going for special survey in 2027.

Maersk has set a net-zero emissions target for 2040 across the entire business; retrofitting of engines to run on methanol is an important lever in this strategy. With this retrofit initiative, Maersk hopes to pave the way for future scalable retrofit programs in the industry and thereby accelerate the transition from fossil fuels to green fuels. Ultimately, it wants to demonstrate that methanol retrofits can be a viable alternative to new buildings, said Leonardo Sonzio, Head of Fleet Management and Technology at Maersk.

Maersk has signed an agreement with MAN Energy Solutions (MAN ES), which will retrofit the engine.

Replacing engine parts and thereby making the engine able to operate on methanol is a rather complex task, but only a part of the larger retrofit operation. For example, new fuel tanks, fuel preparation room and fuel supply system are also a part of the retrofitting the vessel for green methanol.

Detailed engineering for the first retrofit is ongoing and the actual implementation will take place in the middle of 2024. Meanwhile, discussions with potential yards are ongoing, said Ole Graa Jakobsen, Head of Fleet Technology and responsible for the retrofit project at Maersk.

Maersk is currently operating more than 700 vessels with around 300 of them being owned by Maersk.

Besides aiming to achieve net-zero in 2040, Maersk has also set tangible near-term targets for 2030 to ensure alignment with the Paris Agreement and Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) methodology. This translates to a 50% reduction in emissions per transported container in the Maersk Ocean fleet compared to 2020, and furthermore 25% of its container volume will by 2030 be transported using green fuels.

Maersk defines “green fuels” as fuels with low to very low GHG emissions over their life cycle compared to fossil fuels. Different green fuels achieve different life cycle reductions depending on their production pathway. By “low” Maersk refers to fuels with 65-80% life cycle GHG reductions compared to fossil fuels. This covers, e.g., some biodiesels.

”Very low” refers to fuels with 80-95% life cycle GHG reductions compared to fossil fuels. For commodity biofuels like, e.g., biodiesel for road transport, the minimum GHG savings are typically governed by standards such as the EU Renewable Energy Directive (RED), and Maersk aligns its minimum reduction thresholds for fuels to the RED. For future fuels such as methanol where Maersk is involved in the project design and development, the company strive to achieve higher GHG reductions than the legislative thresholds.


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