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The future of zero carbon shipping

Mar 03, 2019
Maersk has recently announced its goal to reach carbon neutrality by 2050. To achieve this goal, carbon neutral vessels must be commercially viable by 2030, and an acceleration in new innovations and adaption of new technology is required.

Soren ToftClimate is one of the most important issues in the world, and carrying around 80% of global trade, the shipping industry is vital to finding solutions. Maersk claims that its CO2 emissions have reduced by 46% since 2007, around 9% more than the industry average.

As world trade and thereby shipping volumes continue to grow, efficiency improvements on the current fossil-based technology can only keep shipping emissions at current levels but not reduce them significantly or eliminate them.

“The only possible way to achieve the so-much-needed decarbonisation in our industry is by fully transforming to new carbon-neutral fuels and supply chains,” said Søren Toft, Chief Operating Officer at AP Moller - Maersk.

Maersk says it’s trying to solve problems specific to maritime transport, as it calls for solutions other than automotive, rail and aviation.  Electric trucks are expected to have a maximum carrying capacity of two TEUs and a range of 800 km per charging. In comparison, a container vessel carrying thousands of TEUs sailing from Panama to Rotterdam covers around 8,800 km. With short battery durability and no charging points along the route, innovative developments are imperative.

Given the 20-25-year life time of a vessel, Maersk says it is now time to join forces and start developing the new type of vessels that will be crossing the seas in 2050.  “The next 5-10 years are going to be crucial,” said Søren.  “We will invest significant resources for innovation and fleet technology to improve the technical and financial viability of decarbonised solutions. Over the last four years, we have invested around USD 1bn and engaged 50+ engineers each year in developing and deploying energy efficient solutions. Going forward we cannot do this alone.”

The company believes research and development is key to take the industry away from today’s fossil-based technology and by setting this ambitious target, Maersk hopes to generate a pull towards researchers, technology developers, investors, cargo owners and legislators that will activate strong industry involvement, co-development, and sponsorship of sustainable solutions not previously seen in the maritime industry.

In 2019, Maersk is planning to initiate open and collaborative dialogue with all possible parties to tackle climate change.

 

 

Photo:  Søren Toft, Chief Operating Officer at A.P. Moller - Maersk.

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