MSC backs hydrogen as future fuel

Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), the world’s second largest containerline, has given an indication of its future investments as its pursues its own decarbonisation course with hydrogen to the fore.

As well as exploring future hydrogen-powered designs, MSC has given details of its use of biofuels on its existing fleet.

We need a range of alternative fuels at scale and we need them urgently

Speaking yesterday at the inaugural Maritime Transport Efficiency Conference in Geneva, where MSC is headquartered, Bud Darr, the company’s executive vice president for maritime policy and government affairs, outlined some preferred propulsion options in a keynote speech on decarbonisation and during a panel discussion on fuels for the future.

“There’s no one single solution to decarbonise shipping; we need a range of alternative fuels at scale and we need them urgently,” Darr said. “The future of shipping and decarbonisation will rely on strong partnerships from both the perspective of technology collaboration and procurement,” he added.

MSC is actively exploring and trialling a range of alternative fuels and technologies and is already bunkering biofuels at scale.

Fossil-sourced LNG remains a transitional option, while carbon capture and storage, if perfected for marine use, could be useful, Darr told the conference.

Industry partnerships could help accelerate the development of clean hydrogen for the benefit of the entire container shipping industry, the MSC executive maintained. Despite some significant challenges to overcome mainly related to density, volume and safe handling, MSC has come out in favour of further R&D efforts to produce it in a greenhouse gas neutral way and to develop it at scale, along with other fuels that may derive from it.

“MSC believes there must be a massive injection of energy and capital into R&D efforts to bring alternative fuels and alternative propulsion technologies to the marketplace for us to deploy and decarbonise in the longer term,” the company stated in a press release yesterday.

MSC’s container shipping partner, Maersk, has identified three fuels to focus on for its own decarbonisation strategy, namely alcohol, biogas and ammonia.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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