Last month Norwegian shipping company Grieg Maritime Group and Finnish engine and energy equipment manufacturer Wärtsilä announced plans to build an ammonia-fueled tanker that will be ready for service in 2024. The MS Green Ammonia will transport low-carbon ammonia along the Norwegian coast from a factory that will be built in the far-north municipality of Berlevåg.
Norway, with its high number of vessels using LNG or alternative fuels, with high volumes of green energy, and the cheapest electrical power in Europe, is probably the perfect arena for the world’s first market for green ammonia … We see a strong interest from owners of ferries, offshore supply ships, fishing vessels, and from energy-producing companies. In total, they require an amount of energy surpassing what we can achieve in this project. The market is there without a doubt.Grieg Maritime Group’s Chief Business Development Officer Vidar Lundberg, quoted in the company’s press release Grieg and Wärtsilä to build groundbreaking green ammonia tanker, December 18, 2020
Final specifications for the vessel are still under review, according to the Grieg press release. “Concrete design, size, and volume are all elements that are dependent on the market and end-users. However, the project has already established LOIs with several heavyweight industrial partners.”
Berlevåg is a town of approximately 1,000 people situated on the northernmost coast of Norway. In October 2020 an eight-member industrial group that includes Grieg Maritime and Wärtsilä announced an intention to build an ammonia plant there with annual capacity of 110,000-120,000 tonnes. According to an article in the engineering magazine Teknisk Ukeblad, the plant would be fed with hydrogen produced using electricity from a nearby wind farm. The partners plan to bring the plant on line “by 2025.”
The Grieg press release reports that the MS Green Ammonia project “is a result of a Nordic industrial collaboration group initiated by ZEEDS (Zero Emission Energy Distribution at Sea).” ZEEDs was unveiled in June 2019 as a “concept for producing and distributing low-carbon maritime fuels from purpose-built facilities in the waters off northern Europe.” The ZEEDS partners include, in addition to Grieg Maritime and Wärtsilä, two of the other partners in the MS Green Ammonia project: offshore engineering and technology company Aker Solutions, and engineering, procurement, and construction company Kvaerner.
Since the ZEEDS announcement, Wärtsilä has appeared as a lead or supporting player in several maritime ammonia initiatives, generally with responsibility for power technology and ammonia storage and distribution systems. Included on the list are an effort to develop an ammonia-fueled marine engine; the repowering of an Equinor supply vessel (the Viking Energy) with a fuel cell; and a “pilot study” of ammonia fuel involving a cruise ship / car ferry (the Color Line’s Color Fantasy).
The Norwegian government’s PILOT-E funding scheme will contribute NOK 46.3 million (USD $5.4 million) to the MS Green Ammonia project.