Maersk, Shell and Dutch shippers in major biofuel pilot

Written by Nick Blenkey
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A.P. Møller – Mærsk A/S is partnering with a group of Dutch multinationals, including Shell, in what will be the largest maritime biofuels pilot program yet. It will see one of Maersk’s giant Triple E containerships sail 25.000 nautical miles from Rotterdam to Shanghai and back on biofuel blends alone.

The blend will use up to 20% sustainable second-generation biofuels, eliminating 1.5 million kg of CO2 and 20,000 kg of sulfur emissions.

The biofuel to be used in this pilot is called “second generation” in that it is produced from waste sources, in this case used cooking oil. Other sources for these fuels include forest residues, wood chip waste etc. An attraction of biofuel is that it can replace or be blended with conventional (fossil) fuels, without having to make major technical adaptations to ships’ engines.

The fuel for the pilot program is being supplied by Shell which, along with the other partners in the project — FrieslandCampina, Heineken, Philips, DSM, and Unilever — is a member of the Dutch Sustainable Growth Coalition (DSGC).

The DSGC members, many of them Maersk customers, played a critical role in initiating and sponsoring the pilot.

Sustainably sourced second-generation biofuels are just one possible solution for the decarbonization of ocean shipping, says Maersk. 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.

“To reach our net zero CO2 target by 2050, in the next 10 years we need big breakthroughs,” said Søren Toft, Chief Operating Officer, A.P. Moller – Maersk. “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. It 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.”

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