Maersk Orders 'World's Greenest Container Ship'

LONDON, United Kingdom — Maersk has unveiled what it claims is not only the largest, but also the most energy-efficient and environmentally friendly container ship in the world.

The Danish shipping company has signed a deal with Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Company (DSME) for an initial order of 10 of the $190-million vessels to transport goods between Asia and Europe.

At a press conference in London this week, Maersk chief executive Eivind Kolding said $30 million of the price was dedicated to making the new Triple-E vessel the "most energy-efficient [container vessel] that the world has ever seen" when it launches in 2013.

Kolding said the additional $30 million was spent on ensuring the ship's energy consumption and carbon output will be half the industry average for vessels serving Asia-European trade and 20 percent lower than its previous best in that class, the Emma Maersk.

The investment could deliver significant long-term savings for the company, given record oil prices and fears that an international deal on shipping emissions will remain elusive, bringing EU threats to incorporate the industry into its Emissions Trading Scheme sharply into focus.

At 400 meters long, 59 meters across and 73 meters high, the Triple-E is considerably larger than the Emma Maersk, but has a marginally slower top speed, which lowers the power output and enables greater fuel economy.

Maersk has committed to reducing its CO2 emissions per container moved by a quarter by 2020, compared to 2007 levels. The Triple-E, whose U-shaped design enables it to hold 18,000 containers, is expected to use 35 percent less fuel than smaller ships and push Maersk well past the 17 percent decrease in emissions per container already achieved since 2007.

"International trade will continue to play a key role in the development of the global economy, but, for the health of the planet, we must continue to reduce our CO2 emissions," said Kolding. "It is not only a top priority for us, but also for our customers, who depend on us in their supply chain, and also for a growing number of consumers who base their purchasing decisions on this type of information."

Other environmental features include a waste-heat recovery system that reduces fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by 9 percent, space set aside for sulphur-cleaning scrubbers to be retro-fitted to the vessels, and a so-called passport to enable extensive recycling at the end of the ship's life.

The passport documents every component used in constructing the vessel so the materials can be used in future ships. Maersk estimates around 90 percent of the Triple-E will be recycled in this way when it is eventually broken up.

"If we can define and locate all materials, it greatly improves their value and reusability for future vessels, containers and more," said Jacob Sterling, head of climate and environment at Maersk.

The deal with DSME includes an option for 20 more Triple-E vessels, at a combined cost of almost $6 billion.

Kolding admitted that Maersk had not yet decided whether to take up the option, but said the company was positive about "what would be the greatest shipyard order ever."

This article originally appeared on BusinessGreen, and is reprinted with permission.