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Credible business models key to ammonia-powered shipping

A study has found that green ammonia-powered vessels have the potential to play a role in decarbonising the maritime industry, and demonstrating business models will be an important catalyst.

The Nordic Green Ammonia-Powered Ship (NoGAPS) concept study looked at the entire green ammonia value chain for fuelling ships, and concluded that green ammonia was practical and feasible as a future marine fuel.

NoGAPS considered the work needed to develop, build and fuel a green ammonia-powered gas carrier for operation in Northern Europe. The study was developed by the Global Maritime Forum and Fürstenberg Maritime Advisory and was the work of a consortium including the Maersk Mc-Kinney Moller Center for Zero Carbon Shipping, DNV, DNB, MAN Energy Solutions, Wärtsilä, Danish Ship Finance, BW Epic Kosan and others.

The study focused on the Nordic region, identifying potential in the region due to its large renewable energy capacity, ammonia production capacity and the shipping businesses located there.

Its conclusions were that green ammonia-powered shipping has significant potential to contribute to shipping’s decarbonisation, that technical and regulatory hurdles were not  major obstacles to getting the vessel on the water, and that ammonia is a credible long-term zero-emission fuel.

Developing and demonstrating business models to financiers and operators is an important challenge, said the report, and government and public support could accelerate adoption of green ammonia as a fuel.

“Understanding the technologies and business models needed to deliver zero-emission shipping is key. Focus should now be on measures that can strengthen the business case for zero-emission ammonia,” said Jesse Fahnestock, Project Director at the Global Maritime Forum.

The NoGAPS study identified means by which the business case for the vessel could be improved, including design optimisation to reduce fuel storage costs, long-term charter agreements to reduce owners’ risks, dual fuel capabilities to minimise fuel supply risk exposure, and a strategy to move from grey to green ammonia.

With green ammonia currently a more expensive fuel than conventional shipping fuels, the study said it was likely that support from governments would be necessary in the form of help to finance the extra costs of green ammonia ships, guarantee loans, and regulate or incentivise emissions reductions.

“There are no significant technical barriers towards large-scale green zero-carbon ammonia production and ammonia can be delivered at scale reliably and safely to the shipping industry. Yara as a leading ammonia player is planning to set-up large scale green ammonia production in Norway and other regions. All stakeholders including the regulators, governments and environmental agencies should act now to enable the shipping industry to transition towards green ammonia as a fuel,” says Magnus Ankarstrand, President, Yara Clean Ammonia.

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