Unifeeder Group Sets Sail Towards a Greener Future with Methanol-Powered Vessels
Oct 04 2023
Unifeeder Group has charted a sustainable course towards a more environmentally friendly future with a groundbreaking move. The company has inked a long-term time-charter agreement for two cutting-edge methanol-capable container feeder vessels, with the option to add two more to their fleet.
These state-of-the-art vessels, each capable of carrying 1250 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs), will be designed and managed by the esteemed German ship-owning group, Elbdeich Reederei. Anticipated to be delivered in 2026, these vessels are poised to become a game-changer in the shipping industry's quest to reduce emissions.
Unifeeder Group has strategic plans to deploy these vessels across its extensive European network. This move is expected to make a significant contribution to lowering emissions throughout the network, aligning with the company's commitment to environmental responsibility.
In collaboration with its parent company, DP World, Unifeeder is actively engaged in partnerships across the industry to address the challenge of renewable methanol supply. Building production capacity at the scale necessary to replace conventional fossil fuels requires solid off-take commitments, and Unifeeder is at the forefront of these efforts.
Simultaneously, as these methanol-capable vessels prepare for deployment, Unifeeder will continue enhancing the fuel efficiency of its entire fleet and increase the use of biofuels on their conventional vessels. This multi-pronged approach underscores their dedication to reducing their carbon footprint.
Jesper Kristensen, Group CEO of Unifeeder Group, emphasized the significance of this move, stating, "This is another significant step towards the green transformation of our fleet and our operations. These new vessels can be deployed across our current and future networks, offering a flexible, greener solution to our customers. As the number of methanol-capable vessels increases in both our operations and those of our customers, my hope is that this drives an increase in innovation and production amongst methanol producers. This will then complete a virtuous circle and ensure we can operate more and more methanol-capable vessels with the right type of methanol fuels in our networks."
Kristensen also emphasized the overarching goal of sustainability, noting, "Ultimately though, the greenest fuel is the fuel that is not burned. We strive to offer our customers solutions that support their own sustainability journeys, and while these new vessels are part of the answer, efficient routing, securing high levels of vessel utilization, and dedicated capacity management across all of our offerings have major roles to play as well."
Unifeeder Group's investment in these innovative vessels underscores its ambitious decarbonization plan. The company is committed to exceeding industry standards, with targets including a 25% reduction in emissions by 2030, carbon neutrality by 2040, and net-zero emissions by 2050. Achieving these milestones will involve a comprehensive approach, emphasizing fuel-efficient practices, regular maintenance, and refitting of existing vessels, along with fostering a culture of learning and collaboration to drive effective carbon reduction strategies across markets.
Robert Frese, Managing Director at Elbdeich Reederei, shared his enthusiasm for the project, stating, "We believe in methanol-capable vessels as part of a suite of solutions being deployed to reduce carbon emissions in our sector and are happy to contribute with this project to a greener future in shipping. We really look forward to operating these modern state-of-the-art container feeder vessels in our partnership with Unifeeder and hope other market participants will follow this example."
The introduction of these groundbreaking vessels represents the latest chapter in the ongoing efforts of Unifeeder and Elbdeich Reederei to reduce emissions within the jointly-operated Unifeeder fleet. Their collaborative journey has included pioneering the use of Synthetic Natural Gas as a fuel on a commercial vessel, continuous use of biofuels, and various vessel modifications aimed at reducing fuel consumption on existing vessels.
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