Ammonia bulker startup Viridis Bulk Carriers and consortium partners have moved one step closer to realising a carbon free short sea transportation service comprising cargo, ships and fuel logistics as part of the project called FlexBulk.
The project has been awarded NOK13.75m ($1.5m) in development funding from the Norwegian Pilot-E program, a collaboration between the Norwegian Research Council, Innovation Norway and ENOVA, designed to support new maritime projects from the idea stage to full scale realisation. The value granted to Viridis does not yet include the investment grant from ENOVA.
“This award is a recognition of our vision and marks a milestone in our commitment to an environmentally friendly fleet renewal. Through our FlexBulk project, we will build the world’s first short-sea fleet based on ammonia as fuel,” asserted Espen Nordstrøm at Viridis Bulk Carriers/Navigare Logistics.
Viridis said its vessel platform is directly applicable to more than 3,000 ships in Europe and indirectly applicable to most other shipping segments. The aim is to place the first shipbuilding orders by the end of 2022, with deliveries starting in 2024 or 2025.
The company has already signed memoranda of understanding with seven charterers that are said to have an underlying short sea bulk cargo volume of 20m tons across more than 5,000 shipments per year, equal to 100 ships in operation. Elkem, Yara, Franzefoss Minerals, Vestkorn, Saltimport, Viken AT Market and Biomar have signed up to find the best synergies to optimise the trading of Viridis vessels.
The Flexbulk project is also closely related to the sister-project “Ammonia fuel bunkering network” project which received NOK89m from the Norwegian Green Platform program earlier this year. “Together, the two projects remove the chicken-and-the-egg dilemma for introducing new fuels,” Viridis said.
André Risholm at Viridis Bulk Carriers/Amon Maritime added that the company is certain that the Pilot-E grant from the Norwegian government will prove to be an important success factor for placing the first ammonia-powered cargo ships on the water.