Danish shipping giant AP Moller – Maersk has announced plans to operate the world’s first carbon neutral liner vessel by 2023, seven years sooner than its original target.

Fast-tracked by advances in technology and increasing customer demand for sustainable supply chains, Maersk says its efforts to decarbonise marine operations are seven years ahead of the initial 2030-ambition. All new future Maersk owned vessels will have dual fuel technology installed, enabling either carbon neutral operations or operation on standard very low sulphur fuel oil (VLSFO).

Søren Skou, CEO, AP Moller – Maersk says, “Our ambition is to lead the way in decarbonising global logistics. Our customers expect us to help them decarbonise their global supply chains, and we are embracing the challenge, working on solving the practical, technical and safety challenges inherent in the carbon neutral fuels we need in the future”… and while “our ambition to have a carbon neutral fleet by 2050 was a moon shot when we announced it in 2018, today we see it as a challenging, yet achievable target to reach.”

Maersk’s first methanol feeder vessel will have a capacity of around 2000 twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU) and will be deployed in one of its intra-regional networks. While the vessel will be able to operate on standard VLSFO, the plan is to run it on carbon neutral e-methanol or sustainable bio-methanol from day one.

“It will be a significant challenge to source an adequate supply of carbon neutral methanol within our timeline but we believe our aspiration to put the world’s first carbon neutral liner vessel in operation by 2023 is the best way to kick start the rapid scaling of carbon neutral fuels we will need,” says Henriette Hallberg Thygesen, CEO of Fleet & Strategic Brands, AP Moller – Maersk.

Maersk is pursuing several carbon neutral fuel pathways and expects multiple fuel solutions to exist alongside each other in the future. Methanol (e-methanol and bio-methanol), alcohol-lignin blends and ammonia remain the primary fuel candidates for the future.

A key collaboration partner is the Mærsk McKinney Møller Center for Zero Carbon Shipping, an independent, non-profit research and development centre, that works across sectors, organisations, research areas and regulators to accelerate the development and implementation of new energy systems and technologies.