Spain signs billion-dollar deal with Maersk for green fuel production

by Lorraine Williamson

MADRID – The Danish shipping company Maersk on Thursday signed an agreement with the Spanish government for the mass production of green methanol as an environmentally friendly fuel for cargo ships. The deal is worth €10 billion. 

It is an ambitious project of Madrid, which regularly claims an ecological policy. The agreement is part of a new strategy for the shipping giant, which aims to be climate neutral by 2040. “Maersk will need about six million tons of green methanol per year” to meet its 2030 carbon emissions reduction target. And, moreover, “even greater amounts” to eventually reach its carbon neutrality target, the group said in a press release. 

Galicia and Andalucia as production locations 

In a statement, the Madrid government confirmed the planned total investments also involve Spanish energy companies and other international partners. Galicia in the north and Andalucia in the south are planned as production sites. Further details were not initially given. Maersk boss Søren Skou previously met Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez in Madrid. Moreover, the agreement is part of a global strategy by the Danish shipping company to replace polluting fossil fuels with methanol from renewable energy sources. 

Spain as a major player in renewable energy sources 

Aside from the economic spin-offs and the jobs created, this gigantic project is a reminder of the Spanish government’s expressed and presumed desire to become a major player in green policy and renewable energies. 

Due to its geographic location long isolated from energy, Spain is now managing, with the war in Ukraine, to reap its advantages: independence from Russian gas and 47% of its electricity production from renewable energy sources. 

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For months, the Spanish government has been stating its interest in green hydrogen and its ambition to become a major producer. The future construction of the underwater gas pipeline between Barcelona and Marseille for the transport of green hydrogen, announced in October, is therefore directly in line with Spain’s objectives. 

Annual savings of 2.3 million tons of carbon dioxide 

After Egypt, Spain is the second country with which the world’s second largest shipping company has concluded such an agreement. Further locations on the international trade routes are planned. Maersk has ordered 19 new ships that can run on methanol. If they are up and running and have replaced older ships, they will save about 2.3 million tons of carbon dioxide annually. This is according to Maersk. Furthermore, the shipping company says it wants to be climate neutral by 2040. 

Global shipping major polluter 

According to the Federal Environment Agency, global shipping emits more CO2 than Germany. Green methanol, a nearly carbon neutral fuel, would exist when the energy used to produce it comes from renewable sources. For this, like in Spain, hydrogen is produced using wind or solar energy, which reacts with CO2 to form methanol. Moreover, the CO2 can come from agricultural waste or, for example, from a sewage treatment plant. 

Also read: TUI and Spanish oil company join forces to fly greener

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