The world-first green methanol container ship was christened on Thursday by the Danish shipping and logistics giant Maersk and is destined for service in the Baltic Sea.
The vessel will carry the name “Laura Maersk”, the EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen revealed at a ceremony in Copenhagen. It has a container capacity of 2,100 TEU (twenty-foot equivalent unit).
“This ship, this moment, embodies Europe’s decision to pioneer the fight against climate change,” von der Leyen said during the ceremony.
Today, a large cargo vessel sailing entirely on green methanol is not only possible.
It’s a reality.
What you have achieved needed vision, leadership and joining forces ↓
— Ursula von der Leyen (@vonderleyen) September 14, 2023
The vessel traveled a 21,500-kilometer journey from the Hyundai Mipo Dockyard in South Korea all the way to Copenhagen.
The new container ship, ordered in 2021, has two engines: one moved by traditional fuels and another run with green methanol — an alternative component, which uses biomass or captured carbon and hydrogen from renewable power.
The new vessel emits 100 tons of carbon dioxide fewer per day compared to diesel-based ships.
“This is the first step for us. But it’s the first step for the industry as well,” Maersk CEO Vincent Clerc told CNBC.
“The ship was ordered only in 2021, and she was really the first of its kind. Today, just a couple of years later, we have 125 ships that have been ordered by different companies to actually work on the same technology and the same energy transition. So this ship is really a trendsetter for a whole industry.”
Maersk has an ambitious 2040 target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions and aims to transport a minimum of 25% of Ocean cargo using green fuels by 2030.
Evergreen and other shipping firms have ordered similar vessels, though they have less ambitious carbon neutrality targets than Maersk.
Methanol container ships can cut CO2 emissions by 60-95%
Shipping accounts for around 3% of global carbon emissions, an amount comparable to major polluting countries. However, decarbonizing the sector has been challenging.
Methanol is a colorless liquid that can be used as a fuel source for engines. It’s designated as green when made from low carbon sources such as hydrogen or biomass.
Compared to conventional fuels like gasoline or diesel, green methanol can cut CO2 emissions by 60-95%, according to the Methanol Institute. It also has a lower sulphur content, reducing emissions of sulphur oxides which contribute to air pollution and acid rain.
Green methanol is quickly rising up the ranks as a clean energy solution, but it’s not a perfect alternative.
Despite its environmental benefits, the World Economic Forum (WEF) notes that it has a cost issue, with production prices still higher than fossil fuel-produced methanol.
And there are safety concerns too, as methanol is toxic, flammable and potentially explosive – meaning it must be stored and handled carefully.