News

Maersk partners with global companies to trial biofuel

22 March 2019
Mette Maersk

In a pilot between March and June, a large Triple-E vessel will sail 25,000 nautical miles from Rotterdam to Shanghai and back on biofuel blends alone, using up to 20% sustainable second–generation biofuels – a world’s first at this scale.

Convinced of the urgency to tackle the impacts of climate change, a group of Dutch multinationals – including FrieslandCampina, Heineken, Philips, DSM, Shell and Unilever - all members of the Dutch Sustainable Growth Coalition (DSGC), will join forces with A.P. Moller - Maersk to take this tangible step towards the decarbonisation of ocean shipping

“To reach our net zero CO2 target by 2050, we need big breakthroughs in the next 10 years. Maersk cannot do this alone. That is why this collaboration with DSGC and its members is such an important step in identifying and bringing low-carbon solutions to life,” says Søren Toft, COO of Maersk, and continues:

“The pilot lays the foundation for how cross-industry partners can work together to take steps towards a more sustainable future. We welcome others to join in our efforts, as this journey is just beginning.”

The DSGC members, many of which are customers to Maersk, played a critical role by initiating and sponsoring the pilot. Shell acts as the fuel supplier for the pilot, and Maersk is the operating partner. 

One solution of many

Soren Toft
The pilot lays the foundation for how cross-industry partners can work together to take steps towards a more sustainable future." - Søren Toft, COO of Maersk

Shipping accounts for around 90% of transported goods and 2-3% of total global CO2 emissions, and is set to rise to 15% by 2050 if left unchecked. The CO2 savings of this journey alone equates to the annual CO2 emitted by over 200 households in a year or 12m km travelled in an average car which is 300 times around the world.

DSGC members and Maersk all agree that tackling harmful emissions related to shipping is urgently needed and that cross-industry collaboration is required to develop, test and implement new solutions.

“DSGC companies join in action to contribute to the UN SDGs. With this initiative we focus on Climate Action (SDG 13). We have taken the initiative to partner with A.P. Moller - Maersk on this important effort,” says Jan Peter Balkenende, Chair of the DSGC, and adds:

“This pilot testing biofuel on a cross ocean shipping lane, marks an important step. However, many more innovations are urgently needed. These can only be successfully developed, tested and implemented in industry collaborations like this.”

Sustainably sourced second-generation biofuels are just one possible solution for the decarbonisation of ocean shipping. Longer term breakthroughs in fuel and technical development (i.e. e-fuels) and the investment into commercial supply chains are needed to achieve significant emissions reductions.

“Biofuels are one of the potential solutions that can be implemented in the short and medium term. Through this pilot, we aim to learn more about using biofuels in general, and to understand the possibilities around increasing its usage in a sustainable and economical way,” Søren Toft adds.

The pilot represents a significant step towards proving the technical, sustainable and commercial validation for decarbonised ocean transport and Maersk is seeing a strong demand for sustainable shipping from its customers. Therefore, the company plans to invite and collaborate with more customers to take active part in the decarbonisation of shipping over the coming years to create commercial availability for its wider customer base.

The biofuel

The biofuel used in this pilot is a so-called ‘second–generation’ biofuel, produced from waste sources, in this case used cooking oil (UCOME oil). Second generation biofuel means the biofuel comes from waste products. This can be used cooking oil, forest residues, wood chip waste etc. This biofuel is ISCC Certified, meaning that the whole chain is 3rd party certified. The power of biofuel is that it can to a certain extent replace or be blended with conventional fossil fuels, without having to make big technical adaptations to the engines or even replacing them.

Learn more

How the World’s Biggest Shipping Company Plans to Cut Emissions - Bloomberg 22 Marc

Press release 22 March on maersk.com

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