The maritime sector is facing a major challenge. While a globally growing economy leads to more demand for transport of goods, the goals from the Paris climate agreement and the subsequent agreement in IMO require a 50% reduction of CO2-emissions from maritime transport by 2050. Several parties are working on the development of new fuel types for shipping, such as methanol, hydrogen, ammonia, various biofuels and battery-electric. There is great uncertainty about the best option for the short and longer term, and what the best options are for different ship segments.

Within the Green Maritime Methanol project, a sector wide consortium of more than 30 partners have investigated the feasibility of application of methanol as a marine fuel. The following topics for applying methanol as an energy carrier for shipping have been elaborated in the first part of this project:

  • Overall technical and operational:
    • Investigation of different options for applying methanol in a ship engine,
    • Safe storage and handling of methanol on board, and
    • Bunkering safety and operations.
  • Economic and environmental viability:
    • Overall market potential of application of methanol,
    • Investigation of different production and supply chain routes, and
    • Effect of different production routes on emissions,
  • Translation of these overall results into different shipping markets:
    • Detailed ship design based on the specific technical layout and operational profile for different vessel types, and
    • Business Cases for applying methanol for these different vessels.

The outcomes of the study have been presented in several project deliverables and summarized in an overall findings report. The consortium concluded that applying methanol as a shipping fuel is deemed to be feasible from a technical and operational perspective, and that there are several options for sustainable production of methanol from sources such as biomass, municipal waste and through a synthetic production from hydrogen and a sustainable carbon source. From the six methanol ship designs that were performed as part of the project, it was concluded that there are significant differences in the redesign costs of different vessel types. Important factors are the current layout and available space onboard and the preferred fuelling solution (either switch to methanol as single fuel option or as a dual fuel).

Stakeholders in the consortium appreciated the multidisciplinary approach and expressed their interest in following up on the project. The consortium has identified four topics for further development:

  • There are some remaining safety and ship design issues that need to be tackled. This includes solution for venting during the bunker and ventilation during operations on board.
  • Additional knowledge is needed on the engine performance of both spark-ignited and direct separated injection in a compression ignited engine. These tests should be performed in several engine classes.
  • More real-life experience is needed with application of methanol in operational circumstances for different vessel types. Therefore, pilot projects are needed.
  • There are still uncertainties concerning the availability and pricing of sustainable methanol. Additional research is needed in setting up different supply chains. Because policies and legislation are very important in the steps towards implementation, results will be discussed with policy makers.

The second part of this project will tackle these questions.

Objectives of the project (GMM2.0)

For Green Maritime Methanol 2.0 the following objectives have been defined:

  • Develop solutions for current safety issues when applying methanol,
  • Perform additional lab tests with application of different variants for applying methanol in the engine,
  • Developing practical ship designs, based on results of GMM 1.0 and developing future pilot projects, and
  • Further development of options to strengthen the business case of methanol (price development, supply solutions, policy measures).

The main aim of the project is to bring the technology from TRL 5/6 to TRL 7/8.

Our consortium

The Green Maritime Methanol 2.0 project builds upon the consortium of its predecessor and brings together a wide set of stakeholders in order to bring extensive experience and knowledge for the different topics. The following partners participated actively in the consortium:

  • Major shipowners and the associate carrier organisation,
  • Shipbuilding companies,
  • Major marine engine manufacturers together with their trade association,
  • A specialised marine systems design and equipment supplier and a maritime service provider,
  • Class societies,
  • The Netherlands’ Port of Amsterdam,
  • Methanol suppliers and their trade association, and
  • Research Institutes, supported by the Maritime Knowledge Centre.

The consortium is working in close relation with other national and international initiatives on development of alternative energy carriers for the maritime sector, including the Horizon 2020 project FASTWATER, the JIP Zero Emission Lab, the National Growth Fund application for Hydrogen (Groenvermogen van de Nederlandse economie), the validation initiative as part of the Dutch Green Deal and initiatives as part of the Dutch R&D arrangement for the Mobility Sectors.