Estonia’s longstanding shipbuilding traditions take a new turn as SRC Group moves closer to bringing a greener future in the maritime sector. Founded by Hannes Lilp in 2001, SRC Group AS is now a multi-regional company specialising in design, engineering, technical and interior refits in the maritime, offshore, cruise, and ferry industries.
Last week, the company announced receiving Approval in Principle (AiP) from Lloyd’s Register for their revolutionary Methanol Superstorage project. This innovation promises to be a game-changer for the shipping industry, particularly for existing ships looking to transition to cleaner fuels and meet ambitious emissions reduction targets set by the International Maritime Organization (IMO).
Solving problems at a scale
Methanol, a promising alternative marine fuel, has emerged as a frontrunner in the quest to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from ships. With the IMO’s targets to cut emissions by at least 20% by 2030 and 70% by 2040, the maritime industry is under pressure to find cleaner fuel options. Renewably-sourced methanol fits this net-zero framework and is relatively easy to store and handle.
However, there’s a catch. Methanol takes twice as much volume to generate the same energy as Heavy Fuel Oil (HFO), the conventional marine fuel. This poses a significant challenge for ship design and retrofitting, especially since low flashpoint fuel tanks typically require cofferdams. A cofferdam means an empty space provided in a ship so that compartments on each side have no common boundary
Methanol Superstorage circumvents the cofferdam problem by using Sandwich Plate System (SPS) Technology to construct tank walls, resulting in a substantial increase in storage volume—up to 85%. What’s even more impressive is that this extraordinary gain can be retrofitted with minimal impact on a ship’s general arrangement.
Hannes Lilp, CEO of SRC Group, emphasises the importance of methanol as a viable marine fuel, stating, “Due to long-established use in other industries, availability, and performance, methanol is the alternative marine fuel offering the strongest potential to reduce ship GHGs at pace.” He highlights that Methanol Superstorage uses a 25mm thick SPS barrier, acting as a fire protection shield and a triple barrier against leakage.
Estonia leading the charge
With this AiP from Lloyd’s Register, SRC Group is putting forward a new era for sustainable shipping. The approval signifies that Methanol Superstorage has cleared the conceptual hurdles and is on its way to securing classification approval and regulatory compliance.
This development aligns with Estonia’s vision for a greener, more sustainable future. The Estonia government is actively supporting initiatives that promote cleaner and greener practices, making the country a frontrunner in the race towards a more sustainable shipping industry.
Estonia has a draft update of its National Energy and Climate Plan for 2030, which includes measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the maritime industry, such as reducing emissions of fluorinated greenhouse gases and replacing them with alternative substances. Estonia also plans to start discussions on how to go on with green corridors, which is a concept of the maritime industry that needs a clear definition of maritime green.