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Research centre launched to help decarbonise shipping

Research centre launched to help decarbonise shipping
The centre is funded by A.P. Møller Foundation

A group of shipping industry players have launched the Maersk Mc-Kinney Møller Centre for Zero Carbon Shipping, aiming to develop new fuel types and technologies to decarbonise maritime transport.

The founding company partners behind this initiative are ABS, A.P. Møller – Mærsk, Cargill, MAN Energy Solutions, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, NYK Lines and Siemens Energy.

While the shipping sector currently accounts for around 3% of global carbon emissions, there are short-term targets related to increased energy efficiency to enable a 40% relative reduction by 2030.

However, further reductions require new fuel types and systemic industry change according to the partners. They believe this is possible as there is opportunity to secure broad-based industry adoption of new technology and fuels since shipping is globally regulated.

In order to achieve their goals, the partners claim that industry leaders must play a key role in ensuring that laboratory research is successfully matured to scalable solutions matching the needs of industry, while new legislation is required to enable the energy transition.

The centre, which will be based in Copenhagen, Denmark, is funded by a start-up donation of DKK400m (US$60m) by the A.P. Møller Foundation and will be run as a non-profit organisation, set up as a commercial foundation with a charitable purpose.

Ane Uggla, chairman of the board in the A.P. Møller Foundation, said: “With this donation, the A. P. Møller Foundation wishes to support the efforts to solve the climate issue in global shipping. My father, Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller was a visionary leader in the global shipping industry for more than 7 decades.

“He was concerned about shipping’s impact on the environment. Already in the 1980s he championed the use of low sulphur fuel, and he pioneered the first double hull oil tankers in the 1990s to minimise the risk of oil spills. Therefore, I find it very natural that my father’s name will be connected to the centre.”

As an independent research centre, it will work across the entire shipping sector with industry, academia and authorities.

A specialised, cross-disciplinary team will collaborate globally to create overviews of decarbonisation pathways, accelerate the development of selected decarbonising fuels and powering technologies, and support the establishment of regulatory, financial and commercial means to enable transformation.

A board of directors is being established to define the strategic direction of the centre, while Søren Skou, CEO of A.P. Møller – Mærsk has been confirmed as board member.

Skou stated: “The founding partners and the A.P. Møller Foundation share a long-term ambition to decarbonise the shipping industry. The establishment of the centre is a quantum leap towards realising that ambition.

“This joint initiative will fast-track the maturation of solutions and strengthen the basis for decision making among industry players and regulators and hence accelerate investments and implementation of new technologies.”

The centre will have a management board, which will be headed by Bo Cerup-Simonsen as CEO of the centre, who holds a PhD from the Technical University of Denmark in Mechanical Engineering, Naval Architecture.

Cerup-Simonsen commented: “This is the early days of a demanding and necessary transformation of an entire industry. Thanks to the A.P. Møller Foundation and the support from industry-leading partners we now have a unique opportunity to unfold the potential of a sector-wide collaboration towards complete decarbonisation.

“The Mærsk McKinney Møller Center for Zero Carbon Shipping provides a solid platform for the entire eco-system to join forces, demonstrate new solutions and identify the next steps to make it happen.”

The founding partners will donate experts, resources and/or testing platforms to support the operations while the centre expects to attract several more partner companies in the future.

During the first two to three years the centre will recruit around 100 employees to the Copenhagen-based office and collaborate with new partners across the globe.

The founding partner companies have committed one-third of the needed staff, the remaining two-thirds will be recruited independently.

In addition to leadership and administration, the centre staff will include subject matter experts in energy, fuels and ship technology as well as regulatory affairs, finance and the global energy transition.