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Lloyd’s Register: how ammonia can be the ideal renewable marine fuel

We've recently reported a series of ammonia-fueled vessel development and demonstration projects led by industry consortia. One of these, in which Lloyd's Register is joined by Samsung Heavy Industries, MISC, and MAN Energy Solutions, is developing "an ammonia-fuelled tanker." In an interview with Ship Technology magazine this month, Lloyd's Register provided some new details about this project and added context for their ammonia-fueled vessel development plans.

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Environmental and Economic Assessment of Ammonia as a Fuel for Ships

This month, the Korean Register published a comparative assessment of the environmental and economic merits of using ammonia as a maritime fuel. The work, written in collaboration with researchers at Pusan National University, is published in the open-access Journal of Marine Science and Engineering. It concludes that "ammonia can be a carbon-free fuel for ships," and presents "a meaningful approach toward solving GHG problems in the maritime industry."

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Ammonia as a unicorn technology and the UK’s opportunity for COP26

The Guardian newspaper in the UK this week published a comment piece on ammonia's potential as a "unicorn technology," which the authors define as a technology that can "deliver a reduction of at least a billion tonnes of CO2 a year." The article focused on the UK's opportunity, as host of the upcoming COP26 meeting in Glasgow this November, to take a leadership position in solving climate change. The authors, all based at the University of Oxford, outline a strategy by which the UK government could leverage existing British business and academic expertise to build global coalitions, to develop, demonstrate, and roll out "the 'hydrammonia' economy."

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H2U moves forward with 3 GW green ammonia export plant

According to a statement released by the Queensland government last week, the clean infrastructure development firm Hydrogen Utility (H2U) has purchased a 171-hectare site in Gladstone, Queensland, where it intends to build a green ammonia export plant with initial operations beginning in 2025. This "H2-Hub" will be built in stages, scaling up over time to reach up to 3 GW electrolyzer capacity for green hydrogen production, and up to 5,000 tons per day of green ammonia. This is at least twice the size of a conventional natural gas-based world-scale ammonia plant.

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Royal Society publishes Green Ammonia policy briefing

This week, the UK's Royal Society published an influential "Green Ammonia" policy briefing on ammonia as a "zero-carbon fertiliser, fuel and energy store." Rather than provide a comprehensive summary here — the Royal Society policy briefing is freely available to download — I want to focus only on four specific figures. These four illustrations repackage previously available data in valuable new ways, communicating key insights around the barriers to and opportunities for ammonia energy.

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US House draft bill defines ammonia as low-carbon fuel

In January 2020, the US House of Representatives published draft legislation that explicitly defines ammonia as a "low-carbon fuel." This is a first. The CLEAN Future Act is focused on electricity generation, and aims "to build a clean and prosperous future by addressing the climate crisis, protecting the health and welfare of all Americans, and putting the Nation on the path to a net-zero greenhouse gas economy by 2050." The point isn't that this will become law — that seems unlikely anytime soon — but that a mature understanding of the potential benefits of ammonia energy has finally reached policymakers in the heart of Washington DC.

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Maritime decarbonization is a trillion dollar opportunity

In January 2020, the Global Maritime Forum published new analysis that calculates "the capital investment needed to achieve decarbonization" in line with the International Maritime Organization's Initial GHG Strategy. The result of this analysis, which assumes that ammonia will be "the primary zero carbon fuel choice adopted by the shipping industry," is an aggregate investment of between $1 trillion and $1.4 trillion dollars, from 2030 to 2050, or roughly $50 to $70 billion per year across two decades. Ship-side costs are only 13% of this number. The bulk of the investment will be directed towards green ammonia plants for maritime fuel synthesis. By 2050, this global fuel demand is estimated to be more than 900 million tons per year of green ammonia, more than five time today's total global output of conventional ammonia.

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MAN ammonia engine update

In November 2019, MAN ES published a technical paper describing the design and performance of its two-stroke green-ammonia engine. The paper also quietly announces the intentions of MAN ES to exploit ammonia energy technologies in a new business case, Power-to-X (PtX, "the carbon-neutral energy storage and sector coupling technology of the future"). In other words, MAN is moving into green ammonia fuel production.

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Viking Energy to be retrofit for ammonia fuel in 2024

This morning, it was announced that the "Viking Energy," a supply vessel for Equinor's offshore operations, will be modified to run on a 2 MW direct ammonia fuel cell. This will be a five year project: the technology will be scaled-up on land before being installed on the vessel, which will begin a year of GHG emission-free operations in 2024. The Norwegian partners leading this "world's first" project include shipowner Eidesvik, contractor Equinor, and ammonia producer Yara, as well as Wärtsilä (Wärtsilä Norway), responsible for power technology and ammonia storage and distribution systems, and Prototech, delivering the fuel cell system.

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Tri-State announces clean energy plan, retires coal assets

Yesterday, Tri-State Generation & Transmission Association launched its "transformative" Responsible Energy Plan, which will "dramatically and rapidly advance the wholesale power supply cooperative’s clean energy portfolio." Last week, the utility announced the retirement of its last coal-fired power plants in New Mexico and Colorado. These two announcements provide context for a presentation at the Ammonia Energy Conference in November 2019, entitled Market Integrated Ammonia. Its conclusion — highly relevant for a utility that is closing its coal plants and increasing renewables to 50% by 2024 — is that in a wholesale electricity market with increased volatility, renewable ammonia could be produced at the extremely low cost of $96 per tonne.