May 28, 2020

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Dutch coalition to test 2G biofuels on Maersk vessel from Rotterdam to Shanghai and back
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Photo courtesy of Maersk

A group of Dutch multinational companies – FrieslandCampina, Heineken, Philips, DSM, Shell and Unilever – all members of the Dutch Sustainable Growth Coalition (DSGC), will join forces with A.P. Moller – Maersk, an integrated container logistics company, to take a tangible step towards the decarbonisation of ocean shipping.

A pilot program, using up to 20% sustainable second-generation (2G) biofuels on a large triple-E ocean vessel will sail 25.000 nautical miles from Rotterdam to Shanghai and back on biofuel blends alone, a world’s first at this scale, saving 1.5 million kilograms CO2 and 20,000 kilograms of sulphur.

DSGC members and Maersk all agree that tackling harmful emissions related to shipping is urgently needed, and that cross-industry collaboration is required to develop, test and implement new solutions. The DSGC members, many of which are customers to Maersk, played a critical role. They initiated and sponsor the pilot. Shell, acted as the fuel supplier for the pilot, and Maersk played the role as operating partner.

Sustainably sourced second-generation biofuels are just one possible solution for the decarbonisation of ocean shipping. Longer term, breakthroughs in fuel and technical development such ase-fuels and the investment into commercial supply chains are needed to achieve significant emissions reductions.

“DSGC companies join in action to contribute to the UN SDGs. With this initiative we focus on Climate Action (SDG 13). We have taken the initiative to partner with A.P. Moller-Maersk on this important effort,” says Jan Peter Balkenende, chairman of the DSGC. “This pilot testing biofuel on a cross ocean shipping lane, marks an important step. However, many more innovations are urgently needed. These can only be successfully developed, tested and implemented in industry collaborations like this.”

“To reach our net zero CO2 target by 2050, in the next 10 years we need big breakthroughs. Maersk cannot do this alone. That is why this collaboration with DSGC and its members is such an important step in identifying and bringing low carbon solutions to life. It laid the foundation for how cross-industry partners can work together to take steps towards a more sustainable future. We welcome others to join in our efforts, as this journey is just beginning,” said Søren Toft, chief operating officer of A.P. Moller – Maersk.

“Biofuels are one of the viable solutions that can be implemented in the short and medium term. Through this pilot, we aim to learn more about using biofuels in general, and to understand the possibilities around increasing its usage in a sustainable and economical way,” Toft added.

Shipping accounts for 90% of transported goods and 3% of total global CO2-emissions, and is set to rise to 15% by 2050 if left unchecked. The CO2 savings of this journey alone equates to the annual CO2 emitted by more than 200 households in a year or 12 million kilometres travelled in an average car, which is 300 times around the world. The voyage will take place between March and June 2019.

The biofuel used in this pilot is a so-called ‘second generation’ biofuel, produced from waste sources, in this case used cooking oil (UCOME oil). Second generation biofuel means the biofuel comes from waste products. This can be used cooking oil, forest residues, wood chip waste etc. This biofuel is ISCC Certified, meaning that the whole chain is third party certified.  The advantage of biofuel is that it can to a certain extent replace by mixing with conventional fossil-based fuels, without having to make big technical adaptations to the engines or require a completely new engine.

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