Dutch investing in methanol retrofit research


A Dutch consortium of shipowners, yards, suppliers of specialist maritime equipment and knowledge institutions will retrofit six different vessel types to test methanol as a marine fuel.

A research programme dubbed Methanol as an Energy Step Towards Zero-Emission Dutch Shipping (MENENS) has been awarded a €24m ($27m) grant by the Netherlands Enterprise Agency to study how to accelerate the use of methanol as a low-carbon fuel within the shipping industry.

The research will look to develop clean energy technology with a high degree of flexibility and broad applications,from yacht building to offshore ships and high-powered dredgers. The total research budget amounts to around €38m including a contribution from the dredging and offshore contractor Boskalis. Other project partners include Royal IHC and Fugro. The latter will see its 2014-built survey vessel Fugro Pioneer (pictured) converted to run on methanol from 2023.

“Achieving emission-free shipping is complex,and most ships run on fossil fuels. Methanol is now a widely supported alternative,and together with members of the MENENS consortium we aim to accelerate the route to net-zero emission shipping,” Fugro said.

“Alternative fuel types are the most significant driver for developing a more sustainable maritime industry and we continue to be at the forefront of initiatives exploring the emission-reduction potential presented by methanol and other clean technologies. This research program looking into the use of methanol as a low-carbon fuel is another important step along the road to realising net-zero objective,” added Peter Berdowski, CEO of Boskalis.

Methanol,which could potentially enable significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions compared to traditional fuels,is seen within the maritime sector as one of the most feasible clean fuels that will be available in the coming years for large-scale adoption by the industry. Danish liner giant Maersk booked up to 12 methanol-ready 16,000 TEU ships for delivery in the first quarter of 2024. Most recently, Sea Consortium-controlled feeder operator X-Press Feeders ordered sixteen 1,170 TEU dual-fuel newbuild containerships that can operate on regular fuel or green methanol.

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