The Maersk Triple-E class of ultra-large container ships are all about energy efficiency, economies of scale and environmental improvements.
In 2011, Maersk Line secured an order to build 20 container ships bigger than anything currently at sea. The company’s solution, the Triple-E (the “E” is for energy efficiency, economies of scale and environmental improvements), established a new class of container ship. At the time of the first delivery in 2013, the capacity of the Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller was 16% greater than the largest ship built previously.
The ships are fitted with the latest energy-saving and pollution-control technologies. For instance, the ships’ hulls are optimised for lower speeds in an efficiency approach dubbed ‘slow steaming’, which lowers fuel consumption by 37% according to the company. Energy-efficient engines are supplemented by a waste-heat recovery system. The Triple-E class is also equipped with an energy efficient ballast water treatment system. A cradle-to-cradle design approach ensures that when a ship reaches retirement its components can be safely disassembled and recycled.
Why you should care
Commercial shipping is a large contributor of air pollution accounting for around 3% of anthropogenic CO2 emissions worldwide – as much as Japan, the world’s 5th-highest emitting country. Larger ships which are optimised for lower speeds can dramatically improve fuel efficiency per container. Whilst shipping by sea is significantly less polluting than by air, increasing global trade will continue to drive up CO2 emissions overall. The Triple-E is a first step to making global shipping more efficient.