Dutch consortium wins €24M research grant to accelerate use of methanol as marine fuel

Methanol as an Energy Step Towards Zero-Emission Dutch Shipping (MENENS) maritime consortium has been awarded a €24 million (about $27 million) grant to conduct research into accelerating the use of methanol as a low-carbon fuel within the shipping industry.

Sponsored by the Netherlands Enterprise Agency, the research project aims to develop clean energy technology with a high degree of flexibility and broad applications within the shipping industry, from yacht building to offshore work ships and high-powered dredgers.

The MENENS consortium includes 22 shipowners, yards, suppliers of specialist maritime equipment and knowledge institutions.

The total research budget amounts to approximately €38 million including a contribution from Boskalis, a Dutch dredging and heavylift company that participates in the consortium.

“Alternative fuel types are the most significant driver for developing a more sustainable maritime industry… This research program looking into the use of methanol as a low-carbon fuel is another important step along the road to realizing net-zero objective,” ‎Peter Berdowski, CEO of Boskalis, commented.

Boskalis is already part of a joint industry project known as the Green Maritime Methanol Consortium which has previously investigated the feasibility of methanol as a sustainable fuel for the maritime sector. A 2020 study supported by TKI Maritiem and the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy demonstrated that the use of methanol is not yet economically viable for retrofit in Boskalis’ vessels, however further research is currently being carried out with regard to its suitability for newbuild vessels.

Methanol can enable significant reductions in CO2 emissions compared to traditional fuels and is viewed within the international maritime sector as one of the most feasible ‘clean’ fuels for large-scale adoption by the industry.

Specifically, the MENENS consortium will retrofit six different vessel types to test the viability of methanol fuel systems. One of these vessels is Fugro Pioneer, Fugro’s survey vessel that is set to become emission-free from 2023.

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Apart from MENENS, two other maritime consortia won grants from the government agency. Sustainable Hydrogen Integrated Propulsion Drives (SH2IPDRIVE) consortium has been granted a €24.2 million subsidy to accelerate the introduction of hydrogen as a marine fuel.

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In addition, the LNG-ZERO consortium has received a subsidy as part of the R&D Mobility recovery fund. The project partners intend to develop technology and strategy that are needed for reducing exhaust emissions in order to contribute to the sustainable shipping industry.

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