AP Moller-Maersk has signed a collaboration deal with Spain that will secure a huge amount of green methanol for its new container ships.

Soren Skou, the chief executive of the Danish owner, met Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez to thrash out the agreement.

“Signing the protocol marks a significant milestone in the collaboration that, if implemented in full, could deliver up to 2m tonnes of green fuels per year,” Maersk said.

The project aims to explore the feasibility of covering the full supply chain, from renewable energy sources to bunkering of vessels.

Skou said: “We are living in a climate emergency, and we need to rapidly accelerate the availability of green future fuels.

“We are very pleased to explore green fuel opportunities with the Spanish government, as the country holds key characteristics to help solve this challenge with its great hydrogen ambitions and aspiring sustainability goals.

“At the same time, Spain encompasses significant renewable resources and is placed along key shipping routes.”

The parties are reviewing production opportunities in the Andalusia and Galicia regions.

The project has an overall estimated potential to generate up to around 85,000 jobs, including construction and temporary positions.

Sanchez said: “The availability of green energy and fuels in sufficient quantities and at cost-competitive price levels remains the main challenge for the decarbonisation of global shipping.”

Maersk alone needs about 6m tonnes of green methanol per year to reach its 2030 emission targets.

Part of the problem

Even larger amounts will be required by 2040 for the fleet to reach net-zero.

Henriette Hallberg, chief executive of fleet and strategic brands at Maersk, said: “Operating a large fleet of container vessels, we are part of the climate problem, and we have made the choice to take an active part in shaping the solutions to secure a green and just transition, enabling the global shipping industry to deliver on the Paris Agreement and Maersk to achieve its 2040 net-zero target.”

Maersk has 19 methanol-fuelled boxships on order that will come into operation between 2023 and 2025.

Seven other strategic partnerships are in place to secure green fuel for the vessels.

The latest order was in September for six 17,000-teu units at Hyundai Heavy Industries in a deal worth KRW 1.63trn ($1.14bn).

The earlier 13 boxships — a dozen 16,000-teu vessels and a single 2,200-teu feeder ship — were ordered last year.