As the first in the shipping industry, Maersk will retrofit an existing container ship to a dual-fuel methanol powered vessel. This first engine retrofit is scheduled for mid-2024 and Maersk plans to replicate the process on sister vessels when going for special survey in 2027.

Maersk says retrofitting of engines to run on methanol is an important part of its strategy to get to net-zero emissions in 2040.

‘With this initiative, we wish to pave the way for future scalable retrofit programmes in the industry and thereby accelerate the transition from fossil fuels to green fuels,’ says Leonardo Sonzio, Head of Fleet Management and Technology at Maersk. ‘Ultimately, we want to demonstrate that methanol retrofits can be a viable alternative to new buildings.’

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Retrofit at MAN

Maersk has signed an agreement with MAN Energy Solutions (MAN ES) who will retrofit the engine. In total, eleven vessels will be retrofitted in this way.

Sonzio adds: ‘In 2021, we ordered the world’s first methanol-enabled container vessel following a commitment to the principle of only ordering newbuilt vessels that can sail on green fuels. Concurrently, we have explored the potential in retrofitting existing vessels with dual-fuel methanol engines. Having teamed up with MAN ES, we are now ready to demonstrate how retrofitting vessels with methanol dual-fuel capabilities can be done.’

Besides aiming to achieve net-zero in 2040, Maersk has also set tangible near-term targets for 2030 to ensure alignment with the Paris Agreement and Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) methodology. This translates to a fifty per cent reduction in emissions per transported container in the Maersk Ocean fleet compared to 2020, and furthermore 25 per cent of its container volume will by 2030 be transported using green fuels.

Also read: VIDEO: Maersk’s first methanol-powered container ship hits the water

Project to begin next year

Replacing engine parts and thereby making the engine able to operate on methanol is a rather complex task, but only a part of the larger retrofit operation. For instance, new fuel tanks, fuel preparation room and fuel supply system are also a part of the retrofitting the vessel for green methanol.

‘Detailed engineering for the first retrofit is ongoing and the actual implementation will take place in the middle of 2024. Meanwhile, discussions with potential yards are ongoing,’ says Ole Graa Jakobsen, Head of Fleet Technology and responsible for the retrofit project at Maersk.

Maersk is currently operating more than 700 vessels with around 300 of them being owned by Maersk.

Also read: Maersk signs another green methanol partnership