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With $60 Million In Tow, Ocean Carriers Tackle Zero Carbon Shipping

The shipping industry has already made a strong commitment to reduce its global carbon emissions in the lead up to 2050 and now a group of leading industry companies is taking the next step to develop new fuel types and technologies by launching the Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller Center for Zero Carbon Shipping.

The founding company partners behind the initiative are ABS, A.P. Møller-Mærsk, Cargill, MAN Energy Solutions, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, NYK Line and Siemens Energy. The center, which will be based in Copenhagen, is made possible by a startup donation of 400 million Danish krone ($60.47 million) by the A.P. Møller Foundation.

“With this donation, the A. P. Møller Foundation wishes to support the efforts to solve the climate issue in global shipping,” A.P. Møller Foundation chairman Ane Uggla said. “My father, Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller, was a visionary leader in the global shipping industry for more than seven 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 minimize the risk of oil spills. Therefore, I find it very natural that my Father’s name will be connected to the center.”

The center will be a non-profit organization, set up as a commercial foundation with a charitable purpose. As an independent research center, it will work across the entire shipping sector with industry, academia and authorities. A highly specialized, cross-disciplinary team will collaborate globally to create overviews of decarbonization pathways, accelerate the development of selected decarbonizing fuels and powering technologies, and support the establishment of regulatory, financial and commercial means to enable transformation.

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

“The founding partners and the A.P. Møller Foundation share a long-term ambition to decarbonize the shipping industry,” Skou said. “The establishment of the center is a quantum leap toward realizing 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. I am looking forward to join the board of this ambitious collaboration.”

The center will also have a management board headed by Bo Cerup-Simonsen as CEO of the center. Bo Cerup-Simonsen holds a doctorate from the Technical University of Denmark in mechanical engineering and naval architecture and has a proven track record in leadership of large-scale industry projects, maritime technology, research and innovation.

“This is the early days of a demanding and necessary transformation of an entire industry,” Cerup-Simonsen said. “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 toward complete decarbonization. The Mærsk Mc-Kinney 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.”

During the first two to three years, the center 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, while the remaining two-thirds will be recruited independently. In addition to leadership and administration, the center staff will include subject matter experts in energy, fuel and ship technology as well as regulatory affairs, finance and the global energy transition.

The shipping sector accounts for around 3 percent of global carbon emissions and the industry has made a firm commitment to reduce this to zero within this century. Short-term measures related to increased energy efficiency are enabling a 40 percent relative reduction by 2030.

Achieving the long-term target requires new fuel types and a systemic change within the industry, Maersk noted. As shipping is a globally regulated industry, there is an opportunity to secure broad-based industry adoption of new technology and fuels.

To accelerate the development of viable technologies, a coordinated effort within applied research is needed across the entire supply chain. Industry leaders play a critical role in ensuring that laboratory research is successfully matured to scalable solutions matching the needs of industry, the company said. At the same time, new legislation will be required to enable the transition towards decarbonization.