Shipping to splash out on ammonia in green bid

Shippers will have to look to new technologies to clean up their act. [Photo: Shutterstock]

A shipbuilder and engine maker are among leading companies looking to develop a vessel that can run on ammonia as part of efforts to speed up carbon reductions in shipping through cleaner fuel options, officials said on Wednesday (15 January).

The new project aims to design an oil tanker that can be fueled with ammonia and whose technology can be adapted to other types of ships, officials say.

It brings together engine maker MAN, shipbuilder Samsung Heavy Industries, ship classification society Lloyd’s Register and maritime energy services company MISC Berhad.

International shipping accounts for 2.2% of global carbon dioxide emissions, according to the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), more than aviation’s 2% share.

The IMO, a United Nations agency, has said it aims to halve greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from 2008 levels by 2050.

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High costs and potential safety issues have meant that future fuels such as ammonia have been slow to advance.

“MAN are working hard to make the engine ready for ships to be delivered from 2024. This suggests a best case scenario of full design work completed such that a commercial ship building contract could be placed in 2022 for delivery in 2024,” marine & offshore director at Lloyd’s Register Nick Brown told Reuters.

“But delays may be experienced especially if the fuel supply industry does not provide more assurance that new fuels will be available and at what price.”

Shipping companies are exploring solutions ranging from using high-quality paint to working on infrastructure to enable zero carbon ships to be on the water by 2030. Given the long lifetime of ships it is seen as a final deadline to get ready for 2050.

“We all know that the industry–wide movement is vital, and new zero-carbon fuel technologies, such as ammonia fuel, are to be brought on the table, in order to take action proactively on maritime GHG emissions in accordance with the IMO’s ambitious road map,” Joon Ou Nam, president and chief executive of Samsung Heavy Industries, said in a separate statement.

The European Union aims to include shipping within its emissions trading scheme (ETS), a key peg of the new Commission’s Green Deal. Work has begun within the executive’s climate and transport departments and a proposal is expected this year or early in 2021.

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