Maersk heads decarbonisation drive with new research centre


MAERSK and NYK Lines are among the leading maritime companies that have announced plans to set up a new research organisation dedicated to providing decarbonisation solutions to the shipping industry.

The move will see some of the biggest names in the sector collaborating through an established institution rather than via a coalition or for the purposes of a single pilot project.

Other founding members of the Copenhagen-based institution are ABS, Cargill, MAN Energy Solutions, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Siemens Energy.

“A highly specialised, cross-disciplinary team will collaborate globally to create overviews of decarbonisation pathways, accelerate the development of selected decarbonising fuels and powering technologies, and support the establishment of regulatory, financial and commercial means to enable transformation,” Maersk said in a statement.

To get it done, the new organisation will seek external partnerships but will also take in 100 employees over the next two to three years. The founding partners have agreed to provide one third of the workforce.

“In addition to leadership and administration, the Center staff will include subject matter experts in energy, fuels and ship technology as well as regulatory affairs, finance and the global energy transition,” Maersk added.

The organisation will be named the Maersk Mc-Kinney Moller Center for Zero Carbon Shipping after the former AP Moller-Maersk chairman, an emblematic figure in the Danish company.

It will be a non-profit organisation, set up as a commercial foundation with a charitable purpose, and will collaborate with external partners.

The AP Moller Foundation, the Maersk Mc-Kinney Moller family-run fund, is providing it with a start-up donation of DKr400m ($60.7m).

“My father, Maersk Mc-Kinney Moller, was a visionary leader in the global shipping industry for more than seven decades,” AP Moller Foundation chair Ane Uggla said in a statement. “He was concerned about shipping’s impact on the environment.”

The centre’s management will be led by chief executive Bo Cerup-Simonsen and will have a board of directors to offer strategic direction.

Mr Cerup-Simonsen told Lloyd’s List that he expected the build-up of the organisation, including recruitment, to begin in September.

Maersk chief executive Søren Skou, the first confirmed member of the board, said the Maersk Mc-Kinney Moller Center for Zero Carbon Shipping was a “quantum leap” for decarbonising the shipping industry.

“This joint initiative will fast-track the maturation of solutions and strengthen the basis for decision making among industry players and regulators and hence accelerate investments and implementation of new technologies,” he said in a statement.

Mr Cerup-Simonsen said that once up and running, the organisation would effectively work along two lines — research and development, and regulatory and practical measures.

The first would to seek to establish a strong research and development portfolio to investigate the number of different options for decarbonising shipping, both on the energy and technology sides.

“On the other hand, we are going to work with regulatory, commercial and financial means to actually make the transition happen,” he said.

Launching on the back of the AP Moller Foundation donation, Mr Cerup-Simonsen was confident that the organisation could attract similar fund interest and bring in new members, as well as establishing partnerships with companies and institutions that would contribute to it in some way.

“You have to commit resources one way or the other to become a member. Because the point is, we want leadership. We want companies that are committed to drive the transition. And it means we want real commitment,” he said.