Container vessels play a very important role in the global maritime transport. According to ClarksonsPlatou’s estimates, the 5.500 container vessels (2021) account for more than 60% of the global shipping trade. Container vessels have traditionally been designed for high speed. Sailing speeds of up to 25 knots are energy consuming, resulting in high fuel consumption. Given the high fuel consumption, it is clear that container vessels in total are important contributors to the global maritime emissions of CO2. Hence, the task to map alternatives to reduce the emissions is high up on the agenda.
Methanol has been identified as one of the potential energy carriers for decarbonization of the shipping industry. Unlike other green energy carriers such as hydrogen and ammonia, vessels powered by methanol can be realized with smaller changes in the existing terminal infrastructure. Infrastructure, storage and distribution will to a larger degree be similar to other liquid fuels. However, methanol also introduces new challenges. Methanol is toxic and has a low flash point. Methanol has a lower energy density compared with conventional, fossil fuels. The challenges range from storage, safety, engine technology and material compatibility, availability, sustainability and cost.
As other alternative energy carriers, methanol is expensive compared to conventional fossil fuels. In the long term, there is a need for technological development that will reduce the cost of renewable and sustainable methanol.
ViaSea, a subsidiary of ColliCare which is operating container vessels in northern European trade, is also part of the pilot.
Goal of pilot project
The intention with this pilot is to investigate the technical and economic feasibility of building a new 800 TEU shortsea container vessel powered by methanol. The ultimate goal of the pilot is to contribute to reduce the barriers to large-scale adoption of sustainable methanol as fuel. The final goal, after completion of the pilot study, is realization of a short-sea container vessel powered by green methanol.
At the Green Shipping Programme’s Partner Meeting in March 2022, the partners agreed to start this pilot.
The pilot is searching for more participants, and is open to new stakeholders.