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Uniper Scaling Up Green Methanol for European Shipping

green methanol for shipping fuel
Uniper's Maasvlakte Power Plant

Published Mar 11, 2021 2:54 PM by The Maritime Executive

German energy company Uniper announced that it is launching a program designed to scale up green methanol positioning it as a sustainable and carbon-neutral marine fuel.  Working with the shipping service provider Liberty Pier Maritime Projects and engineering firm SDC (Ship Design & Consult) they will form an open collaboration, the Green Methanol Cooperation, to develop the infrastructure and logistics framework needed to supply methanol in Europe and establish the relevant shipping requirements.

While the first focus will be on the infrastructure to supply methanol, a medium-term goal for the cooperation will be to build ships that can burn green methanol in their engines. The project will initially focus on European coastal shipping using ships with a load capacity of 5300 and 8300 tons and container feeders.

Methanol is viewed by the shipping industry as a logical near-term option to begin decarbonization of shipping while development efforts continue on other options including hydrogen and ammonia. Recently, Eastern Pacific Shipping announced that it would begin to retrofit existing ships and develop new ones to run on methanol. EPS expects to have the first ships sailing on methanol in the next two years.

Uniper is highlighting the perceived benefits of methanol saying that as a hydrogen carrier, green methanol is easier to transport and store than green hydrogen. It burns clean, is liquid at ambient temperatures and pressures, and is also biodegradable. Green methanol is carbon-neutral overall, as it is produced using hydrogen from renewable sources and CO2 from the atmosphere via a biological feedstock or direct air capture.

"Providing and using green methanol as a fuel for the maritime industry is a logical step in the implementation of our hydrogen strategy within the wider framework of our decarbonization efforts,” said David Bryson, COO Uniper SE. “With Liberty Pier and SDC, we have gained two experienced and knowledgeable partners from the maritime industry who want to collaborate with us to establish green methanol as a maritime fuel on the market."

Founding the Green Methanol Cooperation, the partners cited the urgent need to find solutions to meet the challenges of the maritime industry and the ambitious standards from the IMO and other regulators to reduce carbon emissions. The partners see green methanol as a “sensible solution for decarbonization, both for European coastal shipping and international deep-sea shipping.” They believe that as the systems are developed it can also be used for specialist applications, such as cruise ships and inland navigation.

The three companies have committed to using a completely digitalized and transparent approach to their collaboration, allowing them to forge ahead with the project in accordance with the Poseidon Principles and ESG principles.