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Maersk collaborating on e-methanol plant in Asia

Construction to follow successful completion of feasibility studies in 2022

(Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

Six companies in the shipping and energy industry signed a memorandum of understanding on Wednesday to establish “Asia’s first green e-methanol plant,” which will convert captured biogenic carbon dioxide and green hydrogen into methanol.

Biogenic carbon dioxide is emitted as organic matter decomposes. Green hydrogen, the other input to e-methanol, is produced by splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen using electrolyzers powered by renewable energy.

The six companies are:

  • A.P. Møller – Maersk, which will use the e-methanol to power container vessels.
  • Air Liquide, which will develop and provide the carbon capture and methanol production technologies.
  • PTT Exploration and Production Public Company, which will integrate the green hydrogen and green e-methanol plant.
  • Oiltanking Asia Pacific, which will provide the methanol storage and bunker supply chain solution.
  • Kenoil Marine Services, which will transport the e-methanol and carry out bunkering to Maersk ships.
  • YTL PowerSeraya, which will study the renewable power solution.

E-methanol is one of the alternative fuels being considered to decarbonize the maritime industry because it has less expansive storage and volume requirements than fuels such as hydrogen.

E-methanol is typically considered to be a carbon-neutral or low-carbon fuel because the carbon that is emitted when powering the vessel is equivalent to the carbon that is captured to create the e-methanol. 

Read: E-methanol: Missing piece to shipping’s decarbonization puzzle?

Feasibility studies will precede construction

The collaboration will need to successfully conclude its feasibility studies on technical and economic aspects of producing the fuel in Singapore before building the pilot plant. 

The studies will specifically analyze the feasibility of biogenic carbon capture, green hydrogen production and green methanol production, the stakeholders told FreightWaves. They will also need to confirm that entities can perform reliable and safe bunkering transportation and operations.

The studies are expected to be finished by the end of 2022. The green e-methanol plant will have a minimum capacity to produce 50,000 tons annually, according to a release.

Singapore chosen as location for pilot plant

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore said it welcomes the partnership to leverage Singapore’s port and research ecosystems for the purposes of the feasibility studies to run bunkering trials on green e-methanol.

Singapore is a major shipping hub located at the “world’s busiest shipping crossroads,” stakeholders said, making it “an ideal location to take this important step” toward exploring alternative fuels and decarbonizing the global shipping industry. 

The collaboration also marks a “pivotal step” toward making green e-methanol more accessible and commercially viable for the maritime industry.

Read: Report: Climate change could cost shipping industry $25B annually by 2100

The stakeholders said green e-methanol could help the industry meet the International Maritime

Organization’s target to reduce carbon intensity by 40% by 2030, compared to 2008 levels.

“The project has the strong potential to support industry adoption and realization of climate neutrality goals, making a meaningful contribution to the global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” the release said.

WATCH: How do we decarbonize the ocean shipping sector?

This announcement is a continuation of Maersk’s involvement with advancing the use of green methanol to decarbonize the shipping industry. 

Maersk is partnering with several energy and fuel companies to source at least 730,000 metric tons of green methanol by the end of 2025. The company also has eight to 12 methanol-powered vessels on order, which are predicted to be on the water between 2024 and 2025.

Click here for more FreightWaves articles by Alyssa Sporrer.

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Alyssa Sporrer

Alyssa is a staff writer at FreightWaves, covering sustainability news in the freight and supply chain industry, from low-carbon fuels to social sustainability, emissions & more. She graduated from Iowa State University with a double major in Marketing and Environmental Studies. She is passionate about all things environmental and enjoys outdoor activities such as skiing, ultimate frisbee, hiking, and soccer.