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How green ammonia could power 30% of the merchant fleet by 2050

A new report by Alfa Laval, Hafnia, Haldor Topsoe, Vestas and Siemens Gamesa has suggested that renewable ammonia could eventually power 30% of the global maritime fleet.

The 59-page study forecasts that once the fuel’s logistics chain has been fully developed – including the construction of 150m tonnes per year of incremental production capacity – green ammonia would have a cost similar to today’s compliant oil-based bunkers.

The report highlights what fraction of the Earth would be needed to create the renewable resources to create enough green ammonia to power 30% of the world’s merchant fleet (pictured below).

Ernest Hemingway once said that people tend to go bankrupt in two ways – gradually then suddenly

The report also estimates that the cost of today’s conventional ammonia is already comparable to VLSFO or MGO.

“Ernest Hemmingway (sic) once said that people tend to go bankrupt in two ways – gradually then suddenly. Technological change and transitions tend to happen in the same way, what once seemed impossible and then unfeasible, becomes possible and then finally the standard,” the study noted, going on to give the rise of electric cars in recent years as an example.

Ammonia developments are happening fast across the shipping industry with leading engine manufacturers readying their first engines for commercial use and this week Japanese line Nippon Yusen Kaisha teaming with compatriot yard Japan Marine United and ClassNK to commercialise the use of ammonia-fuelled ships. Likewise, Hyundai Mipo Dockyard in South Korea has just laid out plans to commercialise ammonia-fuelled ships by 2025.

January saw Malaysia’s flagship carrier MISC along with Samsung Heavy Industries, Lloyd’s Register and MAN Energy Solutions set about building a landmark ammonia-fuelled tanker. Elsewhere, in a world-first, it was announced that Eidesvik’s 2003-built LNG-fuelled platform supply vessel Viking Energy will have a high-power fuel-cell installed to allow it to be powered by green ammonia.

In October last year, Maersk, the world’s largest containerline, identified three fuels to focus on, namely alcohol, biogas and ammonia as it transitions towards complete decarbonisation by 2050.

To read the full 59-page report, click here.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.

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