Shipping Giant Orders Eight Carbon-Neutral Container Vessels

Shipping and logistics giant Maersk has ordered eight large carbon-neutral ocean-going container ships, in what has been seen in the maritime industry as a major step forward for sea-freight decarbonisation.

In a press release, Maersk described the order as a way to accelerate their efforts to decarbonise their sea logistics operations and demonstrate their commitment to the Low Carbon Charter and long term efforts to reach net-zero carbon emissions.

The eight container ships run on e-methanol, a carbon-neutral biofuel produced by Danish renewable energy organisation European Energy, and would equate to a reduction of over a million tonnes of carbon dioxide by replacing incumbent emissions-intensive ships.

The first of these ships, each of which has the capacity for 16,000 standard shipping containers, will be completed by early 2024, with a cost per ship of around $175m.

These would become the first container ships owned by a major logistics company that are capable of sailing on the high seas.

The remaining ships will be rolled out across the year, with an additional option to buy four extra ships in 2025.

The cost per ship is more than standard bunker fuel vessels, but Maersk emphasised their commitment to decarbonising supply chains and that their order highlights the speed at which green technologies are evolving.

One complication that has been noted is that whilst Maersk plans on running the vessels on bio-methanol and carbon-neutral e-methanol, supplies of the fuels globally are limited and so could prove a challenge to plans to use green biofuels immediately.

This could have major implications for supply chains and provides a willing shipping agent with the option of a completely decarbonised supply chain route to meet client demand.