STENA Germanica, the first ship in the world to run on methanol as a marine fuel, has just marked five years of successful operation. This signifies a major milestone in the continued shift towards a more sustainable future for commercial shipping in line with the industry’s decarbonisation efforts.

Stena Germanica was converted to be capable of running on methanol fuel in early 2015 at Remontowa Shipyard in Poland. The 240-metre long ferry, with a capacity for 1500 passengers and 300 cars, was retrofitted with a first-of-its-kind fuel-flexible Wärtsilä 4-stroke engine that can run on methanol or traditional marine fuels. The ferry began the world’s first methanol-powered sailings between Gothenburg, Sweden and Kiel, Germany in late-March 2015.

Stena Germanica’s conversion was a co-operation between Methanex Corporation, Stena Line, Wärtsilä, the Port of Gothenburg, and the Port of Kiel. The project was co-financed by the European Union and the classification of the conversion to methanol was conducted by Lloyd’s Register.

In the five years since launch, the market for methanol-powered vessels has seen continued growth. Methanex Corporation, through a wholly-owned subsidiary, Waterfront Shipping, operates the world’s largest methanol ocean tanker fleet with 11 vessels.

“Being the owner of the world’s first ship with methanol-fuel represented a great step on our journey to become the leader in sustainable shipping, and is an achievement we are very pleased to share as we mark the five-year anniversary of Stena Germanica’s successful operation on methanol,” says Carl-Johan Hagman, head of shipping and ferries at Stena AB.

As part of its program aimed at the enablement of viable sustainable fuels, Wärtsilä is continuing to invest in methanol for marine fuel applications, and further development work and testing procedures are planned.

As a marine fuel, methanol is compliant with the IMO’s 2020 regulations by reducing sulphur oxides by around 99% and has the ability to meet Tier III Nitrogen oxides regulations without exhaust after-treatment.

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Methanol is already well positioned globally as a marine fuel, as it is available at more than 88 of the world’s top 100 ports.

“Our aim has always been to take a leadership position by being at the forefront of innovation in commercial shipping,” says Stuart McCall, director of business development at Methanex.

“Thanks to projects like this, methanol has been proven as a safe, reliable, and cost-effective marine fuel, and we continue to uncover innovative technological advances that optimize the performance and efficiency of the fuel as the market for methanol-powered vessels keeps growing.”

Methanol also offers a clear pathway towards meeting future carbon reduction targets in 2030 and 2050 when produced from renewable sources.

Stena Bulk recently announced a joint venture with Proman Shipping to build two methanol-powered vessels with delivery scheduled for the beginning of 2022.

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