World’s First Carbon-Free Ammonia-Fueled Vessel Planned for 2024

Mike Schuler
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January 23, 2020

Viking Energy. File Photo: Eidesvik

A new project looking to launch the world’s first ammonia-powered supply vessel has received major funding from the European Union, setting the stage for testing of the carbon-free fuel as soon as 2024.

Norwegian engery giant Euquinor said Thursday it has awarded Eidesvik Offshore a contract to convert its Viking Energy supply vessel with a 2MW ammonia fuel cell. The contract covers a period five years, beginning in April 2020, during which the supply vessel take part in further research and development, leading to the installation and long-distance testing of carbon-free ammonia fuel cells. The technology is scheduled to be tested on the vessel from 2024, transporting supplies to installations on the Norwegian continental shelf.

The project, called ShipFC, is being run by a consortium of 14 European companies and institutions and is co-coordinated by the Norwegian cluser organisation NCE Maritime CleanTech. The project has just now recieved 10 million euros in backing from the EU’s Research and Innovation program Horizon 2020, under its Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU).

The ammonia fuel cell system is expected to be installed on the Viking Energy in late 2023.

Built in 2003, Viking Energy was the first ocean-going vessel to run on LNG fuel.

“The goal is also to ensure that a large fuel cell can deliver total electric power to shipboards systems safely and effectively,” the consortium members said in a joint press release. “This is the first time an ammonia-powered fuel-cell will be installed on a vessel. A significant part of the project will be the scale up of a 100-kilowatt fuel cell to 2 megawatts.”

The fuel cell will be tested on land in a parallel project and development and construction will be undertaken by Prototech. Testing will be executed at the Sustainable Energy Norwegian Catapult Centre. The ship-side ammonia system will be supplied by Wärtsilä.

The shipping industry is under increasing pressure to reduce its carbon footprint. In its initial strategy to reduce greenhouse gases from ships, the International Maritime Organisation has set a goal reducing GHG emissions from ships by at least 50% by 2050 compared to 2008, while at the same time pursuing efforts towards phasing them out entirely. To achieve this level of ambition, the shipping industry is seeking to have commercially-viable zero emission fuels in use as soon as 2030.

“Equinor aims to reduce the emissions in our supply chain, and regards the use of ammonia as a promising solution. Viking Energy may become the first supply vessel in the world covering long distances fuelled by pure carbon-free ammonia,” says Cecilie Rønning, senior vice president for Equinor’s joint operations support.

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