Maersk expects to resolve safety and all other issues faced by ammonia and fuel types based on alcohols in two to three years, clearing the way to order the first ships to run on these fuels in the next three years, the company’s CEO Søren Skou said in a podcast hosted by Global Optimism.The world’s largest container shipping firm vowed to become a net-zero company in 2018 setting a major precedent in the industry as it vowed to outperform targets set by the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

The key driving force for decarbonization comes from the market because customers are demanding that the suppliers make their supply chains greener and more sustainable.Maersk’s two strategic targets on CO2 emissions are to have net-zero CO2 emissions from its own operations by 2050, which includes having commercially viable, net-zero vessels on the water by 2030, and to deliver a 60% relative reduction in CO2 emissions by 2030 compared to 2008 levels.

The company has been vocal about its preference for a zero-emission alternative to fossil fuels rather than choosing LNG as a bridging fuel for the company’s fleet. Since the clock is ticking, Maersk has decided to invest a lot of its own money, time, and effort into research and development to improve the technical and financial viability of decarbonized solutions. 

Skou said that the vast majority of the company’s investments in the next few years will go into developing new fuels, zooming in on three potential fuel types based on alcohols (methanol and ethanol), bio-methane, and ammonia.Specifically, in order to meet its goal, the company needs to have zero-emission vessels in its fleet by 2030, which leaves it less than a decade to develop new marine fuel technologies and infrastructure.