Maersk accelerates net-zero plans by spending £1bn on 'carbon-neutral' container ships

·2-min read

Shipping firm Maersk has taken a significant step to decarbonise its fleet by spending £1bn on eight vessels that can run on "green" methanol.

The Danish company has committed to only ordering new container ships which can use carbon-neutral fuel as part of its plan to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.

To meet its target, the firm will need to have a carbon-neutral fleet by 2030 as vessels typically have a lifetime of 20 to 35 years.

Maersk said the new ships can each carry 16,000 containers and would save about one million tonnes of CO2 emissions a year.

The company expects to see its annual emissions - currently at 33m tonnes of CO2 - drop by about 3%.

The ships will have engines that can run on both green methanol, produced with renewable sources such as biomass and solar energy, and normal bunker fuel for when supplies of carbon-neutral fuel are scarce.

Green methanol can be made either directly from biomass or when renewable hydrogen is combined with carbon captured from emissions sources or from biomass.

The ships each cost $175m (£127.6m) and are 10 to 15% more expensive than normal ones, Maersk said.

Their delivery is expected in 2024.

Maersk said more than 100 of its largest customers, such as Amazon, Disney and Microsoft, had set targets to cut emissions in their supply chain, or were in the process of doing so.

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"We're in it for our customers," said Maersk's head of decarbonisation Morten Bo Christiansen, adding: "Thankfully they are very appreciative of this and demand is really growing."

The Danish firm said earlier this month that it had signed an agreement to secure green methanol for the operation of its first carbon-neutral ship in 2023.

Global shipping accounts for almost 3% of the world's CO2 emissions, with about 90% of world trade transported by sea.

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