© Studioclover |

The hype surrounding green methanol is taking further hold, with 16 16,000 teu newbuild vessels now on order for Evergreen at Korea’s Samsung HI, in a deal worth $3.1bn.

The ships are set to be delivered by end-2027 and add to Evergreen’s methanol newbuilds under construction at Nihon Shipyard in Japan, to make 25 in total.

The new order demonstrates a willingness to follow Maersk in choosing green methanol as the preferred new fuel for shipping, instead of green ammonia.

Separately, MAN Energy Solutions has embarked on a three-year research project called CliNeR-ECo, funded by the German Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action, to develop a workable methanol retrofit for medium-speed engines. The first retrofit of a fully functioning engine is planned for next year.

While shipowners have often responded to new environmental legislation by scrapping ships and buying new, retrofitting will help shipping solve one of its hitherto unexplored problems: scope 3 emissions.

Construction of new vessels consumes large amounts of highly CO2-embodied virgin steel, as well as generating emissions of its own. If the cost of retrofits can be brought down quickly enough, it would reduce costs for shipowners and ensure they could provide sufficient zero- or near-zero emissions capacity to customers quickly, and at lower cost.

As a liquid, it is also likely that methanol retrofits can be provided at a more sensible cost than the now infamous $35m retrofit of LNG on Hapag-Lloyd’s Brussels Express, which has become a fuel-switching cautionary tale.

“Methanol is an ideal fuel for converting engines on ships, and methanol tanks can usually be integrated into ship designs without too much trouble, while engine conversion costs can be kept within reasonable limits,” explained Christian Kunkel, head of combustion development at MAN Energy Solutions. 

“Thus, with climate-neutral methanol production, the climate effect of the maritime industry can be improved very quickly, while dispensing with the need for newbuilding construction. This is a crucial point as ship lifespans can last several decades in some cases and newbuildings demand a lot of resources.”

In other news, GoodFuels is to provide biomethanol at the port of Amsterdam. It already sells drop-in biofuel, but it appears GoodFuels is looking to shift the balance of mass adoption away from ammonia. 

“We see biomethanol as an effective and scalable way to reduce emissions in the maritime sector in the short term, especially when compared with alternative energy carriers such as ammonia and hydrogen… it is valuable to see that our partners share this vision,” said Daan Faber, project manager business innovation. 

Comment on this article

You must be logged in to post a comment.