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Svitzer signals methanol fleet conversion with Caterpillar MoU

Posted on April 24, 2023

Caterpillar Marine and Svitzer have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) agreeing to install methanol-combusting engines on Svitzer’s tugboats

This will support Svitzer’s decarbonisation strategy by addressing methanol as a fuel in newbuilds and the Maersk Group subsidiary’s existing tugs.

Svitzer and Caterpillar plan to install dual-fuel methanol engines in new tugboats and convert existing Cat-powered tugs. This agreement marks the next evolution of Svitzer’s decarbonisation journey, which currently involves performance monitoring, behavioural change, using biofuels and implementing EcoTow.

This MoU follows the announcement in September 2022 of the methanol-readiness for the Cat 3500-E series, which will enable installation on tugs. In the long term, methanol could be produced from renewable energy sources to reduce lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions.

“Svitzer has a significant fleet of vessels powered by Cat engines and ambitious decarbonisation targets for our future fleet,” says Svitzer global chief operating officer Kasper Karlsen.

“It is therefore of utmost importance we join forces with strategic collaborators, such as Caterpillar Marine, to find solutions for both existing and future vessels.”

Svitzer is making pragmatic decisions to reduce carbon intensity in maritime operations, aiming to achieve a 50% reduction in the CO2 intensity of its entire fleet by 2030 and become CO2 neutral across all scopes by 2040.

“Given the size and complexity of our fleet and the ambitious target we have set of becoming carbon neutral in 2040, it is critical to take a holistic approach to reducing our CO2 emissions,” says Svitzer head of decarbonisation Gareth Prowse.

“While we seek to mature and utilise new technologies, fuel types and operational approaches for new vessels, we also have to find solutions that help reduce the emissions from our existing fleet.”

Caterpillar will provide methods to convert Svitzer’s existing equipment to methanol use.

“Many companies within the industry are exploring methods and solutions that can be incorporated today while also determining viable options for the future,” says Caterpillar Marine vice president and general manager of marine Brad Johnson.

“The collaboration between Caterpillar and Svitzer is an important step towards implementing the solutions that support its decarbonisation strategy.”

Caterpillar Marine global tug segment manager Andres Perez says this MoU will deliver lessons for converting existing fleets in the future.

“The focus of our collaboration is two-fold. We are supporting Svitzer to enable tugs to operate on methanol with diesel-like performance while providing fuel flexibility,” he says.

This is key to enabling operators to lower their carbon intensity via green methanol as availability increases.

“Additionally, we are taking full advantage of the learnings to provide conversion solutions for the existing fleet. This is a critical aspect to reach the level of methanol adoption that Svitzer seeks to fulfil its goals.”


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