Date: 05.10.2022

Environmental developments you may have missed

While we continue to drive forward our ‘green’ initiatives, by selecting environmentally focused partners and further developing our MVT ECO platform in managing, measuring and offsetting carbon emissions, we also monitor ‘green’ developments that may impact our sector.

The Hydrofoil alternative to air freight

Air freight emissions account for 0.5% of global emissions and are expected to grow to 6-13% by 2050. Boundary Layer Technologies (BLT) is developing a hydrofoil fast vessel powered by emission-free green hydrogen, as a viable alternative to air.

The vessel (Argo), due to be launched in intra-Asia trade lanes in the first quarter of 2025, will carry 20 TEU, with a range of 1,500 nautical miles and cruise at 40 knots, as a replacement for short-range air freight transport.

The team behind Argo’s development claim it can replace air freight with only a small increase in door-to-door transit time and will target high-value, time-sensitive cargo like electronics, automotive parts and pharmaceuticals. It will be equipped with power to support reefer containers and offer freight prices that will be 50% cheaper than air freight, based on average 2019 rates.

Argo is intended to be powered by green liquid hydrogen fuel cells, although BLT has yet to secure a supply contract for green hydrogen and it is unclear whether dedicated pipelines for the transport of green hydrogen to the ports used by Argo will be built in time for its launch.

ARGO image courtesy of Boundary Layer Technologies (

Sustainable aviation fuel (SAF)

SAF is similar in its chemistry to traditional fossil jet fuel and is produced from sustainable feedstocks, including cooking oil, non-palm waste oils from animals or plants; solid waste from homes and businesses, and food scraps that would otherwise go to landfill or incineration. Other potential sources include forestry waste, such as waste wood, and energy crops, including fast growing plants and algae.

Using SAF results in a reduction of up to 80% in carbon emissions over the lifecycle of the fuel compared to the traditional jet fuel it replaces, depending on the sustainable feedstock used, production method and the supply chain to the airport. 

We work closely with the Air France/KLM/Martinair SAF programme, in growing the adoption of SAF and reducing the carbon footprint of our air cargo miles. We are considering migration to programme partnership and contributions to further SAF acquisition.

Driverless electric trucks on public roads

Swedish freight technology company Einride has granted a permit in the United States for a pilot project, to test electric, autonomous trucks, which will run for two weeks in the third quarter of 2022 and take place on public roads.

The Einride autonomous electric truck operates without a driver and is monitored by a specially-trained remote driver who can take control if necessary.

Autonomous trucks will mix with normal traffic on public roads located near project partner GE Appliance’s plant near Memphis, Tennessee. 

As part of the pilot, the autonomous trucks will test moving goods, as well as loading/unloading goods with warehouse teams at nearly locations.

Image courtesy of Einride (

Automated container terminals

Following on from ECT, which opened in 1993 and became the first fully automated terminal in the world, a new container terminal with five deep sea berths is being developed at Rotterdam. It will add 7m teu of annual capacity when it begins operations in 2027, with 2.6km of quay at the north end of the ECT terminal.

Like ECT, the new facility will be fully automated, with vessels unloaded by autonomous cranes and cabin-less ground vehicles.

The cleanest vessel power source

The greenest of power sources, wind propulsion, has received a lot of interest as ship owners aim to reduce fuel consumption and lower CO2 emissions. Depending on the size of the sails, efficiency gained from wind propulsion assists mechanisms generally in the range of 15-20%.

Maersk’s liquid bulk division sold the Maersk Pelican to an Indonesian carrier last year, the vessel was the world’s first product tanker to incorporate wind propulsion technology into its operations.

The vessel was sold with the technology installed on board and Maersk has confirmed that it will continue to work with relevant parties to enable the use of wind propulsion technology, optimise vessel performance and reduce CO2 emissions.

From giant kites that pull cargo ships to inflatable sails to spinning rotors that create lift, the move towards wind-powered commercial vessels will generate a doubling of such ships on the water by 2023, as lines work to help meet the industry goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions from the global fleet by 50% by 2050, from 2008 levels.

In July, Japanese  carrier K Line boosted its kite orders to five and signed a contract to install as many as 50 on its fleet of about 420 vessels, as part of its move to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Giant commodity trader Cargill will pilot-test two 120-foot-high rigid wind sails made of steel and composite glass that will be outfitted on the 751-foot-long carrier that it charters and could help cut emissions by as much as 30%, which equates to about 6,400 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year. If the trial is successful, Cargill will retrofit up to 10 more ships.

There are about 12 wind propulsion systems on the market, with seven more coming online in 2023, including 37 meter rigid sails, 100-square-meter inflatable wing sails and 35 meter rotor sails.

The biggest hurdle for many shipowners is the capital investment, with rotors and rigid sails easily costing $1 million to $1.5 million each and ships often needing at least three or more. The return on investment typically is about seven to eight years, but with higher fuel costs, that time is being trimmed dramatically.

Seawing image courtesy of K Line (

Metro has committed to Sustainability Disclosure Requirements and is achieving CO2 neutrality by measuring, reporting and offsetting our CO2 emissions.

The ‘free of charge’ Eco module, that sits in our MVT supply chain platform, monitors the energy emissions, emission costs and CO2 equivalent emissions, of our customer’s consignments, by every mode. Which means that Metro customers can monitor the environmental impact of their supply chains and participate in offset projects that will eradicate their supply chain CO2 footprint.

To request a demo or discuss your requirements, please contact Simon George, who can outline our proven carbon reduction strategies and the availability of offset projects.