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Norden Invests in Biofuel Company to Build Future Fuel Supply

Norden biofuel investment
Norden CEO Jan Rindbo says the industry can not rely of traditional supply agreements (Norden file photo)

Published Aug 2, 2023 7:41 PM by The Maritime Executive

Leading dry-bulk and product tanker shipping company Norden looks to strengthen its position in renewable fuels announcing that it has acquired a minority stake in a startup company, Mash Makes, that is focused on renewable fuels from biomass waste. As a strategic partner, Norden says it will help the company bring its bio-oil products to the marine fuel market while also gaining off-take biofuel agreements for Norden’s fleet. They expect to begin testing next year.

As the shipping industry looks to map its transition to net zero and ultimately zero carbon emissions, one of the challenges is ensuring the supply of the selected alternative fuels. Maersk has been one of the most aggressive actively investing and supporting the development and offtake of green methanol to fuel the company’s investments in dual-fuel methanol containerships. Other carriers including X-Press Feeder have announced supply agreements while companies including NYK and Mitsui O.S.K. Lines in Japan have announced their efforts to support the development of new fuels. Belgium’s CMB.Tech is at the forefront of the development of ammonia and hydrogen-fueled ships.

Norden highlights that it has been working with Mash Makes and had its first investment collaboration for the use of biofuels starting in 2021. Norden was one of the first shipping companies to trial bio-fuel on a large ocean-going vessel in 2018. Through the work with Mash Maker, Norden says it has already gained insights into the viability and scalability of the company’s biofuel platform. 

“We cannot rely solely on traditional offtake agreements with fuel suppliers to achieve decarbonization at the necessary speed that climate change requires,” says Norden CEO, Jan Rindbo. “We need to be a greater part of the supply chain, to both ensure significant volumes and attractive prices that can make Norden competitive in offering low emission freight solutions to our customers.”

Mash Makes started as a project at the Technological University of Denmark in 2015, focused on technology that could convert various waste streams, mainly residue biomass, into different energy products. After achieving a viable processing platform, the company reports it is currently focused on commercial execution starting with the first production site, which came online in May of this year. The company has operations with research and development in both Denmark and India and its first production site at Ahmedabad, India.

The production of Mash Makes’ first bio-oil product is in a late development stage. Norden reports that it expects to conduct the first trial onboard its vessels in early 2024. The goal is to gradually ramp up production and become a significant supplier to Norden’s fleet within the next three years in strategically important locations for decarbonizing global shipping.