Earlier this month,
Maersk announced its intention to become carbon neutral by the middle of the
century and it has received huge response from maritime peers keen to join its
ambitious 2050 fleet decarbonisation bid.
To achieve this goal, it
has said carbon neutral vessels must be commercially viable by 2030, and an
acceleration in new innovations and adaption of new technology is required that
will require pan-industry collaboration.
Jakobsen, Maersk’s head
of fleet technology, is the man charged with leading this pioneering, climate
In an exclusive interview
with Splash, Jakobsen has revealed how his inbox has been “booming”
with replies since Maersk’s dramatic call for action was issued on December 5.
“Our plans have been very much welcomed,” Jakobsen said.
With carbon neutral ships
needing to be in operation in little over 11 years’ time if Maersk is going to
meet its carbon pledge, Jakobsen has mapped out how the coming decade will play
first five years, the Danish carrier will look at all possible propulsion
alternatives, keeping a wide vision with some pilot projects. Then after five
years, Maersk will narrow down its research and follow the technology it
believes has the best chance for adoption to move container shipping towards
While sister firm Maersk
Tankers is trialing rotor sails this wind technology is something that is more
tricky for the box sector, Jakobsen said, as it uses deck space where
containers go. Similarly, solar is something Jakobsen expects to see huge improvements
in over the coming decade, but because it would cover deck space that belongs
to customers’ containers, it is only ever likely to be a supporting technology
for container carriers.
Hydrogen is being closely
looked at by Jakobsen and his team, especially in the wake of news from German
engine manufacturer MAN earlier this month that it has developed
the world’s first marine liquid hydrogen fuel system.
On LNG, something Maersk
has eschewed to date, Jakobsen revealed to Splash that in the
last couple of orders the carrier made it looked at gas propulsion but the
numbers did not stack up. “We have not ruled LNG out as a solution, although it
is not an endgame,” Jakobsen said.
In the interview
with Splash, Jakobsen, whose career with Maersk stretches back to
the 1980s as a project manager at the company’s now shutttered Odense shipyard,
was at pains to stress that his firm’s green 2050 vision is one to share with
“It is important that we
stay in the line that we are openly developing this with the industry,” he
said, revealing other lines and a variety of tech firms have been in touch with
him since the December 5 announcement.
Writing for Splash last
week Dr Tristan Smith
from UCL Energy Institute in London noted of the Maersk announcement that it
has sent an “unambiguous signal”, not only that the future is zero emissions,
but that this future is only 10 years away.