Maersk is the largest container shipping company in the world. The company plans to launch the first carbon neutral cargo ship in 2023. The company has plans to be carbon neutral by 2050.
The issue is that this new vessel will operate on methanol produced from sustainable biomass or renewable sources. Critics point out that biofuels are not a scalable fuel solution at this time.
Mass adoption of biofuels may not be the answer given this would lead to water scarcity and threaten food security.
- We Are Maersk – Maersk Line 2012 (Feb 7, 2012, Maersk)
- Maersk – Carbon Neutral by 2050 (© 2019 A.P. Moller – Maersk) (Sep 23, 2019, Maersk)
- Are Renewable Powered Ships Possible? (Nov 24, 2020, Real Engineering)
This post is based on the CNN article, Maersk has found a way to clean up shipping but there’s a catch, by Hannah Ziady, February 18, 2021, and the YouTube videos in the Spotlight. Image source: Chris Troch/Shutterstock
1. How could biofuel sourcing be improved without putting further pressure on water resources?
Guidance: Students should perform an internet search for information about biofuel production requirements and ideal locations. Obtaining fresh water can be done by using desalination plants near oceans.
What about use of land for biofuel production creating food scarcity? Is this something that could be worked around? Students might consider creation of greenhouses to improve land productivity year-round.
The goal is to work on problem-solving by idea generation.
2. What alternative sources of renewable fuel could be explored to power cargo ships in the future?
Guidance: Ask students to list all the sustainable sources of energy currently known, and to consider how each of these sources might be adapted to cargo ships.
It may be advisable to have students perform an internet search related to these topics to advance the conversation and ideas.
The goal is to get students to consider innovative ideas to power cargo ships in lieu of current biofuel limitations. Examples might include attaching wind turbines to ships, use of solar power, or harnessing the ocean movement to create energy.