Greenwashing or Game Changer: Debunking Maersk’s Methanol Fuel

Credit: Pankaj Mishra/Pexels

A.P. Moller-Maersk appears to be planning a coup. It has placed an order for a containership that, based on its dimensions, is designed for the European feeder container trade, is capable of operating in the Baltic, which is not unusual and is planned to run on methanol, which is also not unusual, as reported by Splash247.

Green methanol factory

I am tipping my figurative hat to Maersk since they have been open about their participation in a group of Danish shipowners who are establishing a factory to produce green methanol.

By using green methanol—that is, methanol produced without introducing any carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, or methane to the atmosphere—the ship that Maersk is building will, I believe, operate on a “zero carbon” basis.

The only merchant and warships that can go from point A to point b without releasing greenhouse gases into the environment are sailing or nuclear ships, and possibly some coastal trading battery electric ships, depending on where the electricity to charge their batteries comes from.

Is it truly ‘Green’?

If the methanol used by Maersk’s ship is truly green, it will soon follow suit. Maersk will likely go above and beyond to make sure that the methanol it uses is not only green but also widely acknowledged to be so. This is because the cost of green fuel will be significantly higher than the price of so-called blue fuel, which is produced in a manner that contributes to greenhouse gas emissions. Maersk will spend a lot of money to appear to be green in the eyes of all.

I believe Maersk will use a roll of thunderous drums to mark the launch of their environmentally friendly, carbon-neutral ship and its capacity to “transport goods carbon-free.” After all, the business will need its money back. Where environmental rules make it feasible to try to do so is in the Baltic. In some places, not so much.

For many years to come, I don’t believe the entire Maersk fleet of ships will be carbon neutral, nor will other ships being built for other owners be.

What do the owners mean

Several ships are being built with the capacity to run on methanol or ammonia, and a select number are being built to run on batteries or hydrogen, according to their owners, and when their owners say this, they often mean two things.

They first mean that the ships will be dual-fuel, which means that their prime movers can run on both heavy fuel oil and on methanol or whatever; their ships will have been designed with space to add fuel tanks for whatever new fuel is fancied; methanol and ammonia are all just ways of getting hydrogen to where you want to burn it; this, in turn, means that a dual-fuel ship will need three times the tank capacity. Without the necessary tanks and fuel handling equipment, which they currently lack because of the wasted space, these beautiful boats won’t be able to run on the CH4, CH3OH, or NH3 fuels. Although dual-fuel still entails HFO, it looks fantastic.

Second, the proprietors of these ships are sure that their crews will be able to distinguish between green CH4, NH3, or CH3OH and the type that destroys planets, known as blue or grey.

The point I’m trying to make is that, contrary to what I recently said in this column, all crude oils and all residual fuel oils derived from them can be identified and tracked. Nevertheless, at the present, there is a tonne of shoddy oil floating around the world’s oceans.

Effortless method 

Given this, how much of the considerably more expensive green CH4, NH3, or CH3OH will be misrepresented as the grey, blue, or untraceable CH4, CH3OH, or both, in the upcoming years? The easiest way to generate money in shipping will be through this.

We are aware of how our sector operates. But is there actually any attempt being made to set up mechanisms that will prevent cheap fuels that harm the earth from being mislabeled as expensive fuels that protect the globe?

Maersk has at least given itself a justification to demonstrate its integrity in the Baltic. I feel sorry for everyone and everything else.


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Source: Splash247


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