MOL eyes deployment of net-zero emission ships in the 2020s

Japanese shipping heavyweight Mitsui O.S.K. Lines (MOL) aims to deploy net-zero emissions ocean-going vessels in the 2020s in line with its environmental vision of achieving net-zero GHG emissions by 2050.

MOL Wind Challenger; Image credit: MOL
MOL WInd Challenger
MOL Wind Challenger; Image by MOL

Under its revised vision, released earlier today, the company has set sights on reducing GHG emissions intensity by approximately 45% by 2035 when compared to 2019 levels.

“We aim to deploy net-zero emissions ocean-going vessels in the late 2020s whilst MOL Group plans to deliver the first pure battery coastal ship in 2022. In addition, we set a target to reduce GHG emissions intensity by approximately 45% by 2035 (versus 2019*) accelerating various initiatives and expanding the number of our net zero emissions ocean-going vessels to about 110,” MOL said.

Namely, in 2022, MOL plans to deliver the first pure battery tanker, which will be powered by high-capacity lithium-ion batteries. The tanker is scheduled to be used as a bunkering vessel in Tokyo Bay.

The shipping major is also considering the development of a hybrid pure car carrier equipped with a hydrogen fuel cell system and large-capacity batteries.

In the meantime, MOL will make sure to achieve our target adopting immediately available fuels such as LNG and biodiesel without waiting for next-generation candidate fuels like ammonia to become available.”

The company has launched five initiatives to achieve the targets, which will include:

  • Adoption of Clean Alternative Fuels
  • Enhancement of Energy-Saving Technologies
  • Boost Operating Efficiency
  • Building Business Models to Enable Net Zero GHG Emissions
  • Expanding Low-Carbon and Decarbonization Projects through Use of the MOL Group’s Concentrated Strengths

Under the vision goals, the company plans to have around 90-LNG fueled vessels in 2030 and approximately 110 net zero ships using alternative fuels in 2035.

As disclosed earlier, the implementation of the vision will be connected with the company’s management plan under which MOL has earmarked an approximately ¥200 billion ($ 1.81 billion) investment in the lowcarbon and decarbonization fields over the three years from 2021 to 2023.

Projects that will support this mission include the promotion of LNG-fueled vessels, fitting vessels with wind propulsion as well as the adoption of biodiesel, ammonia, hydrogen and synthetic methane as marine fuels of the future.

Hard sail systems will play a major role in this process, as the solution is expected to reduce GHG emissions by approximately 8.0% on Japan–North American West Coast voyages.

“Going forward, we aim to equip vessels with multiple hard sails and combine them with other GHG-reduction measures to create powerful solutions. In 2022, we plan to begin operating a coal carrier equipped with a hard sail. At the same time, we are advancing specific studies for the development of hard sails for various other vessel types,” MOL pointed out.

The company is also investing in boosting operating efficiency through AI analysis to cut fuel consumption from ships.

“The vision also reflects the impact that the Wakashio incident in 2020 has had on us. This incident, in which the vessel ran aground off Mauritius and spilled oil, has made it essential to sincerely reexamine our social responsibility as a company. In addition to improving its safety levels, the MOL Group is now even more committed to meeting the expectations of a wide range of stakeholders,” Takeshi Hashimoto, MOL President, and Toshiaki Tanaka, Chief Environment and Sustainability Officer (CESO), said in a joint message.

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MOL has established a dedicated internal organization, investing ¥500 million on measures to prevent reoccurrence of such an incident, through steps like:

  • Addressing the lack of safety awareness
  • Addressing the lack of awareness of regulations on safe navigation and insufficient performance
  • Enhancement of ship operation quality
  • Response on hardware side