British energy leader partners with Japanese firms to innovate sustainable maritime solutions


Drax spearheads development of world’s first biomass-fueled ship

Drax spearheads development of world’s first biomass-fueled ship

Bild: MOU signing ceremony in the British Embassy, Tokyo / DRAX

Drax Group, a prominent British renewable energy company, has partnered with leading Japanese maritime companies—NYK Line, NYK Bulk & Projects Carriers, and TSUNEISHI SHIPBUILDING—to develop the world’s first ship powered by biomass. This innovative project, known as 'bioship', aims to utilize gas derived from biomass to propel the vessel, with a goal to reduce carbon emissions significantly.

The partnership was formalized through a memorandum of understanding signed at the British Embassy in Tokyo. It marks a pivotal moment in maritime innovation, particularly as Japan increases its reliance on renewable energy sources, including biomass. Drax produces biomass pellets in both the US South and Canada. The company has a longstanding relationship with NBP which transports its pellets to JapanDrax collaborates with these Japanese firms to potentially cut carbon emissions by 22% in maritime transport when compared to traditional fossil fuels.

The 'bioship' technology would include an onboard biomass fuel plant that employs a gasifier to combust biomass at high temperatures. This process generates a mix of gases, including carbon monoxide, hydrogen, and methane, which could then power the ship’s generator and provide internal power. This technology is not only anticipated to reduce emissions but also aims to decrease fuel costs associated with traditional shipping methods. If this development is successful, the companies will jointly study the possibility of building a bioship by the end of 2029.

Drax’s involvement in this project is part of its broader commitment to achieving carbon negativity by 2030.