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Costa Looks to Methanol Fuel to Help Decarbonize the Cruise Sector

Mike Schuler
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February 16, 2023

Europe’s leading cruise operator Costa has announced plans explore the use of methanol fuel to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the cruise sector.

Costa Group, part of Carnival Corporation, has signed a memorandum of understanding with Swiss-based methanol producer Proman aiming to boost the supply of sustainable methanol to allow for the retrofitting of existing vessels and investment in methanol-fueled newbuilds.

Methanol fuel has emerged as a promising alternative fuel in the maritime industry’s energy transition because it is easy handle, burns cleaner, and is widely available. It can also be integrated into existing infrastructure and blended regardless of its production pathway, whether natural-gas based, low-carbon or renewable.

“The technology to retrofit a vessel to accept methanol as a fuel is available today,” said Tim Cornelius, Proman’s Managing Director of Corporate Development. “Our methanol products can facilitate the transition to low carbon intensity fuels. Methanol-powered vessels have a proven track record of reducing and eliminating major greenhouse gas emissions, delivering immediate air quality improvements around major ports and shipping lanes. We are excited to bring our expertise along the full methanol value chain to help deliver on Costa Group’s bold ambitions.”

The MOU means that Costa brands Costa Cruises and AIDA Cruises could someday soon have ships and possibly even newbuilds capable of operating on the cleaner-burning fuel.

Costa was previously an early adopter of LNG fuel with the introduction of the AIDAnova, the first cruise ship in the world capable of operating entirely on LNG, now four ships in its fleet currently powered by the fuel. The majority of Costa Group ships are equipped with shore power capabilities to eliminate emissions in ports where the technology is available. It’s also performing its first tests on biofuels.

“We are reducing the carbon footprint of our fleet while at port and at sea, investing in advanced environmental technologies and partnering with companies such as Proman who share a passion for sustainable energy transition,” said said Dr. Christoph Schladoer, VP Decarbonisation Costa Group. “By enabling cruise ships to use methanol as a propulsion fuel, Costa follows the ambition to take the next big step towards GHG neutral operations of our fleet by 2050.”

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