Maersk has teamed up with its majority owner to form a new company to produce "green methanol", the shipping company said on Thursday, as it held a naming ceremony for the world's first container vessel powered by the low-carbon fuel.
Green methanol, produced either from biomass or captured carbon and hydrogen from renewable power, can reduce carbon dioxide emissions from container ships by 60% to 95% compared with conventional fossil fuels.
With more than 100 container vessels capable of sailing on methanol on order, the shipping industry, which accounts for 3% of global greenhouse gas emissions, hopes the greener fuel will help it achieve a goal of net zero emissions by 2050.
Maersk took delivery of the world's first such container vessel in July, when it began its debut journey from South Korea to Europe.
At a ceremony at the harbor outside Maersk's headquarters in Copenhagen, the 172-meter-long vessel capable of carrying 2,136 twenty-foot containers was named Laura Maersk by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, after the first ship to sail with Maersk's white star on blue logo in 1886.
The number of methanol-fueled vessels is expected to exceed 200 by 2028, up from 30 this year, consultancy DNV forecasts. However, production of green methanol is lagging behind demand.
On Thursday, Danish industrial group A.P. Moller Holding (APMH), majority-owner of Maersk, said it had formed a new company C2X that will pursue large-scale green methanol projects near the Suez Canal in Egypt and the port of Huelva in Spain, as well as in several other locations.
"To successfully transition away from fossil fuels we must jointly address the next big challenge and that is to enable and scale the world's supply of green fuels," Maersk Chairman Robert Maersk Uggla said.
C2X is majority owned by APMH while Maersk holds a 20% stake, the companies said. It was not immediately clear how much capital had been raised by the new venture.
(Reuters - Editing by Essi Lehto and Mark Potter)