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The full picture: an assessment of shipping’s emissions must be based on full lifecycle accounting

When you go to see a film in the cinema, the closing credits go on for another five minutes after the film is over. Although few moviegoers stay to read them, the lengthy credit rolls clearly show that a blockbuster is not just about actors but also about the hundreds of people behind the scenes. These people are as important as the main actors in the movie making process. A similar situation occurs with a ship’s climate emissions: if we only account for what’s coming out of the stacks, we don’t understand the real climate impact of the fuel. The full life-cycle of emissions contributes to climate pollution, and we need to recognise their role in climate change. Shipping is an industry with long-term planning horizons and long-lived assets. It is crucial that policy makers in the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the European Union (EU) provide clear guidance and a robust policy framework to account for the full climate impact of fuels.

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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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USDoE Issues [email protected] Funding Opportunity Announcement

Last month the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) issued a USD$64 million funding opportunity announcement (FOA) on behalf of the [email protected] program. [email protected] was launched in 2016 by representatives of several U.S. national laboratories with the goal of moving hydrogen energy technologies toward practical implementation. It is certainly one of the United States’ main vehicles for advancing the hydrogen economy. Given this, the program’s investments will do much to determine whether the U.S. is a leader or follower in ammonia energy. In June 2017, Ammonia Energy reported that “ammonia energy had started to move from the extreme periphery of the [email protected] conceptual map toward its more trafficked precincts.” The EERE FOA shows that while progress is being made, the journey is not yet complete.

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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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Korean Register Sees Ammonia as Preferred Alternative Maritime Fuel

Last week the classification society Korean Register of Shipping (KR) released Forecasting the Alternative Marine Fuel: Ammonia, a “technical document on the characteristics and the current status of ammonia as ship fuel.” One hesitates to take the title too literally, but the report really does forecast that ammonia will be the alternative marine fuel. Over the last year, a number of maritime transport stakeholders – engine producers, government agencies, other classification societies – have identified ammonia as a promising means of industry decarbonization. But in joining the group, KR makes a notably explicit and complete case in ammonia’s favor.

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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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Ammonia energy is now a talking point for CEOs

Chief executives of major corporations are now talking about ammonia energy. This represents another crucial step up the learning curve for clean industry: knowledge about ammonia's potential has successfully spread from the R&D department to the executive suite. This is the difference between development and deployment. The fertilizer industry saw this in 2018, when the CEOs of first movers like Yara and OCP announced green ammonia pilot plants. These latest announcements come, however, from the shipping and power sectors — far bigger industries, with no existing ammonia business — and they focus on the use of green ammonia: for fuel and for profit.