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Maersk and Mitsubishi to Build Japan’s First Green Methanol Supply Base

The initiative at Yokohama port aims to accelerate shipping industry's shift towards decarbonization with sustainable fuel alternatives
m 4182.TSE Mid and Small Cap 2000
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A.P. Moller-Maersk, the Danish shipping giant and world’s second-largest container shipping company, in partnership with Japan’s Mitsubishi Gas Chemical, is set to establish Japan’s first supply base for green methanol at the port of Yokohama. This groundbreaking project, a first for Japan, is a pivotal step towards the decarbonization of maritime transport, aligning with global environmental goals.

The collaboration, which includes the City of Yokohama, will soon formalize their commitment through a memorandum of understanding. The plan is to commence the supply of green methanol to Maersk and other vessels by the end of the next year. The fuel for this initiative will be sourced both internationally by Maersk and locally from a Mitsubishi Gas plant in Niigata Prefecture.

Green methanol, produced from food and livestock waste, is emerging as a promising alternative to traditional heavy oil used in shipping. It offers a substantial reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, cutting them by 60% to 95%, as per the Methanol Institute. Despite its environmental benefits, the adoption of green methanol has been slow, primarily due to its cost, which is significantly higher than conventional fuel.

Maersk is at the forefront of this shift, having already launched the world’s first green methanol-powered ship in October. With plans to introduce 25 such vessels, starting in Asia next spring, the company is leading the charge in sustainable marine transport.

This move is part of a broader global trend towards “green shipping corridors” – routes dedicated to zero-emission shipping. The establishment of supply bases like the one at Yokohama is critical to support this transition and ensure that domestic ports can accommodate green ships.

The shipping industry’s pivot to greener logistics is also driven by increasing regulatory pressures. The International Maritime Organization’s commitment to achieving net-zero emissions from oceangoing vessels by 2050 and the European Union’s impending Emissions Trading System for ships are accelerating the shift to more sustainable maritime operations. These regulations, particularly in Europe, will soon require ships to purchase emissions quotas, incentivizing the use of greener vessels and hastening the industry’s overall decarbonization.

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