Elkem commissions two climate-friendly ships for North Sea operations

by David Fleschen

Elkem has entered into an agreement with NCL (North Sea Container Line AS) who will charter in two new container ships enabling carbon neutral operations from MPC Container Ships to further improve Elkem’s North Sea logistics. Enabling the use of green methanol as fuel, featuring high safety standards and backed by a strong business case, the new ships will enable higher operational efficiency and more climate-friendly transport in line with Elkem’s strategy. The agreement will also enable NCL to become the first container vessel operator in Norway to put methanol-powered ships into operations.

The two new-build ships will replace three of NCL’s current diesel-powered vessels, which will be phased out from operations. The ships, each at a capacity of 1300 TEU (twenty-foot equivalent units), will be owned by the Oslo Børs listed MPC Container Ships ASA (MPCC) in partnership with Topeka MPC Maritime AS. Both vessels are expected to be in operation from the second half of 2024. The new ships are also highly automated, enabling higher efficiency, and feature several new safety measures to eliminate the risks of injury during operations.

“Elkem’s mission is to provide advanced material solutions shaping a better and more sustainable future. Our operations require a significant amount of transport across the value chain, including sea transport as the most climate-friendly mode of transport for bulk goods. These state-of-the-art vessels will further increase our efficiency through increased capacity and can potentially cut net CO2-emissions from 45 % up to 100% through the use of green methanol. This contract with NCL and the innovative newbuilding project with MPC Container Ships ASA is a great example of how operational excellence and sustainability can go hand in hand,” says Elkem’s CEO, Helge Aasen.

Green methanol is a fuel derived from renewable electricity and captured CO2. Compared to conventional fuels, it enables reductions of carbon dioxide emissions to around zero, reduces nitrogen oxide emissions by up to 80%, and eliminates sulphur oxide and particulate matter emissions.

Elkem is one of NCL’s owners, with a 40% share. As part of its climate project portfolio, Elkem is also exploring the potential for capturing CO2 from Elkem’s Norwegian plants and turning the CO2 into methanol for downstream use.

“We in NCL are continuously working to make sea freight safer, more efficient and more environmentally friendly. This is in line with our initiative Sea Change, where we aim to take the lead in making the whole industry greener, quicker. The ships, and the partnership with MPCC, will boost a significant amount of innovation and energy saving measures and are fully prepared for the green transition. A key point for us is making it cost-effective for customers, so that we make green freight the preferred choice. This agreement with Elkem is a great example,” says NCL’s managing director, Bente Hetland.

CEO of MPC Container Ships ASA, Constantin Baack comments: “We are excited to extend our selective fleet renewal with the two newbuildings in partnership with Elkem and NCL. This newbuilding project is a proof of how innovative projects that address the important green transition of the maritime industry can be executed in a way that they are also economically attractive, if the right partners join forces. Combining NCL’s regional expertise and competencies and the strive and commitment of Elkem and others on the cargo side with MPCC’s unique execution capabilities and in-depth understanding of intra-regional trade and vessel designs has been the basis for this project.”

The project has been awarded NOK 13.7 million by Enova, owned by the Norwegian Ministry of Climate and Environment, and NOK 60 million from the NOx fund, the Norwegian business sector’s fund to reduce emissions.

Elkem is among the world's most environmentally friendly manufacturers of silicon-based materials, and high performance on Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) factors are central to the company’s corporate strategy.

The company recently announced a climate roadmap detailing how Elkem plans to develop its business in line with the aim of the Paris agreement of limiting global warming to well below two degrees. The company aims to reduce its total fossil CO2 emissions by 28% from 2020-31 while growing its supplies to the green transition – thereby delivering a 39% improvement of its product carbon footprint in the same period. Elkem’s long-term goal is net zero emissions by 2050.

Source: Elkem, Photo: Fotolia

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