Blue World Technologies ready to scale up methanol fuel cell tech for maritime sector

The Bill Gates-founded investment fund Breakthrough Energy Ventures (BEV) has entered as an investor in Danish fuel cell company Blue World Technologies alongside Vaekstfonden, DEUTZ AG, and existing investors who invested back in December 2021 to complete the company’s €37 million series B round.

Blue World Technologies
Blue World Technologies
Courtesy of Blue World Technologies

As informed, the series B funds will be used for scaling the fuel cell production as well as investing in the development of methanol-driven fuel cell applications for the maritime sector.

The investment from Breakthrough Energy Ventures has been partly funded by Breakthrough Energy Ventures and Breakthrough Energy Ventures-Europe (BEV-E).

In late 2021, the company insourced all the production of the core fuel cell components and is currently in pre-series production. Later this year, Blue World Technologies will launch series production and with further scaling, the company expects to reach a production capacity of 500 MW within a couple of years.

In 2018, Anders Korsgaard, Mads Bang, and Mads Friis Jensen founded Blue World Technologies to contribute to the goal of reaching net-zero CO2 emissions, and since then, the company has worked determinedly on industrialising the methanol fuel cell technology through R&D and large-scale production.

The fuel cells act as an alternative to fossil-based combustion engines, and with high energy conversion, the methanol fuel cells enable a cost-efficient utilisation of renewable e-fuels such as methanol.

“Maritime shipping is a critical component of our global economy, but it contributes 1 billion metric tons of carbon emissions each year,” said Carmichael Roberts of Breakthrough Energy Ventures.

“We see a real opportunity in bringing methanol fuel cells to the maritime sector as a very promising avenue for reaching net-zero CO2 emission quickly. Blue World Technologies has found a unique way to offer marine transportation operators a climate friendly solution with an attractive total cost of ownership.”

On the quest to reaching net-zero CO2 emissions, one of our greatest contributions will be within the maritime sector, where our fuel cells can play a significant role. Initially as a replacement of fossil-based auxiliary power units, and in longer-term, also for driving the propulsion,” Korsgaard explained.

“From the very beginning, the maritime sector has been a central topic in our dialogue with Breakthrough Energy Ventures, which goes well in hand with the sector’s growing interest for methanol as a fuel, and therefore we also see a huge potential in entering the market.”

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“Maritime transport is considered one of the hard to abate sectors and represents 3-4% of EU’s total CO2 emissions,” Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, said.

“This investment by Breakthrough Energy Ventures-Europe represents a significant step in realising the emission reduction potential and is fully in line with EU’s policy of boosting marine renewable and low-carbon fuels. I’m glad to see Commission’s pilot investment in Breakthrough Energy Ventures-Europe bearing fruit and I welcome further innovative, ground-breaking investments in the near future.”

Breakthrough Energy Ventures-Europe was established by the European Commission, the European Investment Bank (EIB), and Breakthrough Energy Ventures to invest in innovative European companies and bring radically new clean energy technologies to the market. It was established to support Europe’s best clean energy entrepreneurs whose solutions can deliver significant and lasting reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

“To solve the climate crisis, we need new innovative technologies in all areas of the economy. We welcome the investment by Breakthrough Energy Ventures-Europe in Blue World Technologies to develop methanol-driven fuel cell applications for the maritime sector. Decarbonising maritime transport is an important part of bringing global emissions down and for the EIB this is a key priority under its new Transport Lending Policy which was announced last month,” Christian Kettel Thomsen, European Investment Bank, noted.

One of the largest challenges in ensuring a net-zero future lies within the maritime sector, where direct electrification is not an option due to operational requirements. With an annual CO2 reduction potential of 1.8 Gt in 2050, new technologies and fuels are essential.

Especially within the last year, the use of renewable methanol as shipping fuel has turned into a global trend, with methanol-driven vessels, cruise ships, and large ocean-going container ships currently being built.

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The fuel cell systems from Blue World Technologies enable a green, CO2-neutral operation with zero particle outlet. As a flexible power solution, the system can be used for auxiliary power, for smaller gensets or larger power units in the megawatt range, or for propulsion depending on ship type and customer needs.