Having made waves with its announcement of a first methanol-fuelled boxship last week, Maersk is turning its attention to another of its favoured fuels of the future: ammonia.

Maersk, as well as local ferry line DFDS, were revealed yesterday as two of the backing companies for a plan to build Europe’s largest Power-to-X-facility to produce CO2-free green ammonia in Esbjerg, Denmark.

The project is led by Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners (CIP) and will be located on the west coast of Denmark, where the Power-to-X-facility will convert power from offshore wind turbines to green ammonia. This will be used by the agriculture sector as CO2-free green fertilizer and by the shipping industry as CO2-free green fuel. The excess heat will be used to provide heating for around one third of the local households in Esbjerg. The facility will consist of 1GW electrolysis.

“Vessels are designed and built for today’s fuelling and a green fossil alternative for vessels does not currently exist. That’s why we’re partnering in projects like Power-to-Ammonia. The ability to establish a vision of an industrial-scale sustainable fuel production facility is due to the power of partnerships,” said Torben Carlsen, CEO of DFDS.

The CEO of fleet and strategic brands at A.P. Moller – Maersk, Henriette Hallberg Thygesen, commented yesterday: “There is a very real sense of urgency in curbing shipping’s emissions, and we must develop scalable carbon neutral fuels. Therefore, we welcome this project as an important development of green ammonia supply in the future.”

Thygesen reiterated Maersk’s stance that she was optimistic that ammonia, along with methanol and alcohol-lignin blends will be powering Maersk vessels in the future.

“We expect an ammonia dual fuel engine for container vessels to become available in the coming years,” a spokesperson for the world’s largest containerline told Splash.

Last week Maersk detailed plans to get a carbon neutral methanol-fuelled 2,000 teu feeder vessel operating by 2023. Like yesterday’s ammonia announcement, Maersk has partnered with fellow Danes to procure initial methanol supplies.

Some of the biggest names across the Danish transport spectrum including Maersk joined forces last year to produce renewable methanol. Maersk, Copenhagen Airports, DSV Panalpina, roro operator DFDS, airline SAS and utility firm Ørsted have partnered to develop an industrial-scale production facility to produce sustainable fuels including renewable methanol for Maersk vessels.

Maersk has eschewed new orders lately and has avoided going down the LNG-fuelled path of many of its rivals. It now has the smallest orderbook of all of the top 10 carriers.

In December 2018, Maersk came out as the first major shipping line to pledge to be carbon neutral by 2050.