Aronnax: Greenship boost

Last week there were two noticeable announcements from shipping companies about the types of ships they are going to, or to be accurate could be, ordering in the future, and these were noticeable as these two vessels were a methanol powered container ship and a wind powered deep sea car carrier.

As we see the drive to decarbonise society and the shipping industry there is pressure on many sides for more action and less talking. But given the ask, the action has been slow to materialise. As we have heard in previous episodes of Aronnax show the race is speeding up to find new fuels and new ways to create a cleaner more sustainable shipping industry, one that is up to the challenge that society is setting itself.

These two announcements from Maersk Line in Copenhagen Denmark and Wallenius Wilhelmsen in Oslo Norway, could, if their promises remain true be seen in the future as some of the first significant steps on this journey.

Maersk Line said it will be building a feeder container vessel that will run off methanol. Well, actually it will be dual fuelleld so it will still has the option to use existing fossil bunker fuels as well.

Tis is not one of the giant boxships that sail between Asia and Europe and the US, these huge vessels have a nominal capacity of well over 20,000 20 foot containers. This methanol vessel, with 2,000 teu is a lot smaller and run on a regular shuttle feeder route according to Morten Bo Christiansen, who is head of Decarbonisaiton at AP Moller Maersk

The company gave me a short window of opportunity to talk to him about the news, but in that time he told me about the challenges they will face. The group aims to get the vessel in the water and in service by 2023. Christiansen says this order for the ship, and the announcement that all future newbuilds will be dual fuelled for future fuels, which should help fuel makers see the potential market for fuels. The company has told the press that customers using this vessel will see higher rates for cargo, reflecting the current higher costs of ordering such a vessel, and the cost of greener fuels which remain higher than current fossil based fuels.

 Also last week Wallenius Wilhelmsen said it will also be pushing on with a project o build a wind powered giant car carrier. The challenges are significant, but the company is moving the Oceanbird project that Swedish partner Wallenius Line began last year.

But it was back in 2005, Norwegian shipowner and manager Wilhelmsen designed a ship it was never intending to build.

It was called Orcelle, like the company’s other vessel’s at the time it was a car carrier, but unlike anything else it was a design of a future ship that had sails, alternative power, wave power, solar panels and other technological ideas that were at the time looking unlikely to become reality.

The announcement last week was for a vessel it is calling Orcelle Wind, and which it hopes to order next year providing the project meets five key feasibility criteria: Namely that such a vessel makes technical, operational, regulatory, financial and commercial sense. Roger Strevens, vice president of Global Sustainability at Wallenius Wilhelmsen talks about the decision to develop such a radically different vessel.  

The listed company is majority owned by Wallenius in Sweden and Wilhelmsen in Norway. The Oceanbird project which has led to Orcelle Wind was driven largely by Wallenius in the beginning. Wilhelmsen in Norway has been evolving its own projects within it subsidiaries, including hydrogen fuelled projects and electrification. And in an earlier episode we talked about another joint venture called Massterley which Wilhelmsen runs with Norwegian tech firm Kongsberg.

Voices in this episode:

Craig Eason, Host & Editorial Director, Fathom World

Morten Bo Christiansen, Head of Decarbonisation, Maersk Line

Roger Strevens, VP Global Sustainability, Wallenius Wilhelmsen 

Nick Chubb, Founder, Thetius

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