Right now, there are around 50,000 merchant vessels out at sea, or docked at a quay somewhere.
Ordinarily, their work keeps the entire global economy moving but it’s been a very turbulent few days for the shipping market. The Russian invasion of Ukraine is causing major disruptions for the industry, with many vessels stuck in ports and freight forwarding costs rocketing higher.
In the wake of sanctions, shipping giant, Maersk has temporarily suspended its container shipping to and from Russia (except for food, medical and humanitarian supplies).
These vessels criss crossing multiple trade routes around the globe generate a staggering 3% of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions – about the same volume as Germany.
The European Union is working hard to cut those CO2 emissions with several schemes designed to make using fossil fuels more expensive. But the problem for shipping firms is that alternative, or ‘greener’ fuels are still only produced in tiny quantities compared with traditional marine fuel.
Nevertheless, Maersk, has made the decision to order 12 ocean-going ships which run on methanol. Each costs $175m (£130m) and is capable of carrying 16,000 containers.
Jacob Sterling, Maersk’s head of decarbonisation innovation and business development. Hopes those vessels will kick-start the market for shipping powered by methanol, which is potentially a greener source of fuel for the industry. “We have had this chicken and egg dilemma,” says Mr Sterling. “We think this will unlock the scaling that needs to happen. “Jacob Sterling, Maersk’s Head of Decarbonisation Innovation and Business Maersk hopes their order for ships will kick start demand for methanol We believe there’s only 30,000 tonnes of fuel being produced now in the world [every year],” says Sterling. It’s likely at least 15 times that will be needed to fuel Maersk’s new ships alone. With a fleet of almost 700 vessels, Maersk is one of the biggest players in shipping. “We emit a lot of CO2. We need to do something about it,” says Sterling