Wednesday, December 5, 2018

From Container Ships to Tankers Global Vessel Operators Must Face Emissions Crisis

Shipping Giant Has Spent a Billion Dollars So Far to Help Cut Pollution
Shipping News Feature
DENMARK – Shipping behemoth AP Moller - Maersk, which under the group brand runs a diverse fleet of vessels, from container ships to tankers and supply craft, has announced plans to reach net Zero CO2 emissions by 2050 as it looks to accelerating the transition to carbon neutral shipping. To achieve this goal, Maersk says that carbon neutral vessels must be commercially viable by 2030, and an acceleration in new innovations and adaption of new technology is required.

Despite the avowed views of the American President, almost a lone voice in the discussion, climate disruption 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 to the excess of emissions which impinge on the global environment. Currently Maersk's relative CO2 emissions are claimed to have reduced by 46% as against a baseline of 2007, approximately 9% more than the industry average.

As world trade and thereby shipping volumes will almost inevitably 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. Søren Toft, Chief Operating Officer at AP Moller – Maersk, said:

"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. The next 5-10 years are going to be crucial. 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 $1 billion and engaged 50+ engineers each year in developing and deploying energy efficient solutions. Going forward we cannot do this alone."

Maersk is putting its efforts towards solving problems specific to maritime transport, as it calls for different solutions than automotive, rail and aviation. The much vaunted but still to come electric yard container truck is expected to be able to carry 2 TEU and is projected to run 800 kilometres per charging. In comparison, a container vessel carrying thousands of TEU sailing from Panama to Rotterdam makes around 8,800 kilometres. With short battery durability and no charging points along the route, innovative developments are imperative.

Maersk says that given the 20-25-year life time of a vessel, it is now time to join forces and start developing the new type of craft that will be crossing the seas in 2050. Research & Development is key to take the industry away from today's fossil based technology and by setting this ambitious target, Maersk hopes to draw in a pool of researchers, technology developers, investors, cargo owners and legislators that will activate strong industry involvement, co-development, and sponsorship of sustainable solutions that we are yet to see in the maritime industry.

During 2019, Maersk is planning to initiate an open and collaborative dialogue with all possible parties to tackle together one of the most important issues in the world – the changing climate.

Photo: To reduce the damage caused by conventional shipping the next generation of cargo vessels are likely to be almost unrecognisable.