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Clean tech makes every drop of fuel count, says Simon Potter of Houlder

Clean technologies will complement low and zero carbon fuels and such techs are needed to create zero-carbon ship of the future and to reduce costs in the short term and long term.





The following is an article written by Simon Potter, Director of Sustainability Advisory to marine engineering consultancy Houlder elaborating the importance of the shipping industry to focus on both clean technologies and future fuels to meet CII, impact the existing fleet now, and ensure less energy-dense future fuels get a helping hand. The article was shared with Singapore-based bunkering publication Manifold Times:

Carbon Intensity Indicator

The shipping industry is witnessing a period of deeply impacting regulation that will require major investment and technological innovation. For example, the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) Carbon Intensity Indicator (CII) regulations coming into effect in January 2023, will have a significant impact on owners, operators and maritime operations more broadly. 

There is a real and present risk of unintended consequences emerging from the implementation of CII. The new regulations may encourage the majority of the industry to do little but slow steam and wait for alternative fuels to emerge at scale, rather than invest in the plethora of innovative, commercially ready clean technologies.

While slow steaming to reduce fuel use is better than not acting at all, it is a pessimistic approach. Strategies such as slowing steaming reduce the capacity of the existing fleet, making the challenge of vessel replacement even bigger as worldwide cargo demand continues to grow. Perversely these strategies themselves make the need for energy efficiency and renewable and sustainable propulsion (clean) technology even more important; if the global fleet needs to grow, so too will greenhouse gas emissions. 

It is important that owners and operators do not continue to overlook the ‘quick wins’ – especially to the current fleet – that clean technology represents. The existing global fleet is worth over $1 trillion and therefore must not be ignored. A big chunk of that cost sits on bank balance sheets, which constitutes significant risk if these assets are not managed properly through the industry’s decarbonisation. 

Shipowners need to integrate available clean technologies into their roadmap to immediately drop emissions and fuel consumption while alternative fuels continue to scale up. This also offers the current fleet an opportunity to keep pace with the rapidly accelerating environmental objectives coming from regulators, the market and the end consumer.

A package of solutions

When looking at clean technology and new fuels, It’s not a question of choosing one over the other. Clean technologies will complement low and zero carbon fuels, and we need them to create the zero-carbon ship of the future and to reduce costs in the short term and long term. 

We already have a huge range of options that complement future fuels and reduce carbon emissions. These include wind propulsion, air lubrication, battery energy storage, hull coating technology, hydrodynamic energy saving devices, and voyage optimisation software, to name a few.

At Houlder, we believe there is no single best energy efficiency solution for CII compliance or for shipowners looking to proactively control their own decarbonisation agenda. There are a multitude of clean technologies that can be deployed today, but it is critically important to determine how they can be packaged together for the greatest effect and to achieve the best return on investment.

It is important to research your options in detail. For example, North Star Shipping (NSS) commissioned a comprehensive study to help develop of a greenhouse gas reduction strategy across its fleet of over 40 vessels. An expert team first established the greenhouse gas emissions and carbon intensity of the current fleet and its operations before identifying the most suitable technologies and operational measures to reduce carbon emissions. This includes defining the cost, benefits and timeline for implementation of these technologies.

Every drop counts

It becomes increasingly clear that all low and zero-carbon alternative fuels will be more expensive and less energy-dense than current oil-based fuels – meaning the unequivocal rationale for investment in clean technologies only strengthens further. Any technology that can improve fuel efficiency and can make less potent fuels go further is a valuable asset. 

Regulation may be setting milestones in the shipping industry’s decarbonisation journey, but the damage done by our carbon emissions is cumulative and won’t be reversed by future fuels. The reality is that most new fuels will not be residual, commoditised products for decades – especially for smaller ship owners and operators – and waiting is not an option. Every drop of fuel saved right now matters, and all measures taken now to reduce emissions through clean technologies provide owners with a more optimised path forward towards full decarbonisation in the future. 

Effective decarbonisation strategies must encompass widespread considerations from regulatory requirements and environmental and social governance to green financing, naval architecture and engineering. What’s clear is that adopting the right clean technology today – in combination with an alternative fuels strategy – makes commercial and environmental sense.


Photo credit: Houlder
Published: 30 September, 2022

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China: Cosco Shipping and bp to explore collaboration in methanol bunker fuel 

Duo signed a MoU in Shanghai to expand their scope of strategic cooperation into new areas including lubricant supply, methanol bunker fuel supply for bunkering and offshore wind supply chain.





China: Cosco Shipping and bp to explore collaboration into methanol bunker fuel

Cosco Shipping on Thursday (7 December) said it has signed  a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with bp to expand their scope of strategic cooperation into new areas on 5 December in Shanghai.

“This includes Castrol Marine lubricants and hydrocarbons transportation, offshore equipment as well as exploring collaboration opportunities in areas such as methanol supply for bunkering and offshore wind supply chain,” Cosco said. 

“Together, both parties will further capitalize on the business advantages of both parties, enhance synergies, and achieve complementary advantages and common development.”

William Lin, bp Group Executive Vice President, and Lin Ji, Executive Vice President of COSCO SHIPPING, witnessed the signing. Simon Yang, bp Group Senior Vice President and bp China President, and Chen Wei, Deputy Head of the Operations Division of COSCO SHIPPING, signed the document on behalf of the two parties.

Cosco said bp has been operating in China since the early 1970s and is one of the leading foreign-invested companies in China’s energy industry. 

“bp and Cosco Shipping have a longstanding history of cooperation, including the transportation of energy products, offshore equipment manufacturing services, and the supply of marine fuels and lubricants,” it added. 

Photo credit: Cosco Shipping
Published: 11 December, 2023

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Maersk to deploy first large methanol-powered vessel on Asia-Europe trade lane in 2024

Ship will enter service on the AE7 string connecting Asia and Europe, which includes port calls in Shanghai and Tanjung Pelepas in Malaysia, with Ningbo in China, being its first destination.





Maersk to deploy first large methanol-powered vessel on Asia-Europe trade lane in 2024

A.P. Moller - Maersk (Maersk) on Thursday (7 December) said it was about to launch the first of its 18 large methanol-enabled vessels currently on order. 

On 9 February 2024, the ship will enter service on the AE7 string connecting Asia and Europe, which includes port calls in Shanghai, Tanjung Pelepas, Colombo and Hamburg, with Ningbo, China, being its first destination.

“The container vessel built by Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) in South Korea has a nominal capacity of 16,000 containers (TEU) and is equipped with a dual-fuel engine enabling operations on methanol as well as biodiesel and conventional bunker fuel,” the firm said. 

Maersk added it has secured sufficient green methanol to cover the vessel’s maiden voyage and continues to work diligently on 2024-25 sourcing solutions for its methanol-enabled vessel fleet.

“Deploying the first of our large methanol-enabled vessels on one of the world’s largest trade lanes, Asia - Europe, is a landmark in our journey towards our Net-Zero target. With the vessel’s capacity of 16,000 containers, this will make a significant impact in our customers’ efforts to decarbonise their supply chains, and we are looking forward to introducing more methanol-enabled vessels on this and other trades during 2024,” Karsten Kildahl Chief Commercial Officer at Maersk, said. 

Ahead of its deployment, the vessel will be named at the shipyard in end January 2024. The following two sister vessels will be deployed in the first half of 2024 with naming events taking place in Yokohama, Japan, and Los Angeles, USA. Maersk said it was expected to take delivery of four additional sister vessels in the second half of 2024.

At the time of deployment of the first large vessel, it will be the only second container vessel in the world that can sail on green methanol, the first being the feeder vessel Laura Maersk which entered service in September this year.

Overview of Maersk vessels on order

  • Maersk has 24 container vessels on order
  • All vessels currently on order will be equipped with dual-fuel engines and will be able to operate on green methanol
  • 12 of the vessels on order have a capacity of 16,000 TEU (Twenty-foot Equivalent Unit containers)
  • 6 of the vessels on order have a capacity of 17,000 TEU
  • 6 of the vessels on order have a capacity of 9,000 TEU
  • Since 2021, Maersk has had a policy of only ordering new vessels able to operate on green fuels

About Maersk’s AE7 service string

  • The AE7 string connects Asia and Europe through the Suez Canal
  • The AE7 string has the following port calls: Ningbo, Shanghai, Nansha, Yantian (all China), Tanjung Pelepas (Malaysia), Colombo (Sri Lanka), Port Tangiers (Morocco), Felixstowe (UK), Hamburg (Germany), Antwerp (Belgium), London Gateway (UK), Le Havre (France), Port Tangiers, Jeddah (Saudi Arabia), Abu Dhabi (UAE) and Jebel Ali (UAE)

Photo credit: A.P. Moller - Maersk
Published: 11 December, 2023

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Alfa Laval to provide methanol fuel supply system for “Maersk Halifax” boxship 

Alfa Laval will support A.P. Moller-Maersk with installation of FCM Methanol low-flashpoint fuel supply system on board the 15,000 TEU container vessel, which is scheduled to take place by mid-2024.





Alfa Laval to retrofit methanol fuel supply system on “Maersk Halifax” boxship

Alfa Laval on Thursday (7 December) said its fuel supply system FCM Methanol has been selected by Maersk for their methanol retrofit project to enable the container vessel Maersk Halifax to operate on methanol fuel. 

The firm said the project stands as a significant achievement for both Alfa Laval and Maersk, underscoring the feasibility of retrofitting ships with the necessary equipment for methanol-based propulsion.

Alfa Laval will support A.P. Moller-Maersk (Maersk) with the installation of FCM Methanol low-flashpoint fuel supply system (LFSS) on board the 15,000 TEU Maersk Halifax. The retrofit is scheduled by mid-2024. This pioneering container vessel conversion will enable the vessel to sail on green methanol with dual-fuel capabilities.

“At Alfa Laval, we collaborate with the industry frontrunners in exploring and embracing innovative ways for decarbonization,” said Viktor Friberg, Head of Marine Separation & Fuel Supply Systems, Alfa Laval. 

“The project with Maersk gives us a unique opportunity to take up a new challenge - retrofitting our equipment for methanol use, for the first time. We are immensely proud to extend our expertise to this innovative retrofit project.”

The project will involve adding a new fuel line for methanol alongside the traditional fuel line, respecting the existing space constraints and the tight time schedule. The retrofit of the FCM Methanol is a landmark project that requires advanced engineering and an understanding of the practical considerations of working with methanol.

“We have set an ambitious net-zero emissions target for 2040, and retrofitting of engines on our vessels to run on methanol is an important nut in our strategy. Retrofitting solutions to accommodate new fuel thereby enabling the engine to operate on methanol is a complex task that requires expertise, and we are happy to have Alfa Laval on board on this project,” said Ole Graa Jakobsen, Head of Fleet Technology, A.P. Moller-Maersk.  

With over 80 ships contracted, Alfa Laval added it has the longest experience in methanol FSS installation and service since 2015. It is the only system that has been powering methanol-fuelled vessels so far, with over 450 000 hours of operations.

Photo credit: Alfa Laval
Published: 11 December, 2023

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