ZEEDS tackles the logistics of carbon-free shipping
As the shipping industry moves towards cleaner fuels, it is clear that in addition to transforming the shipping fleet, it will also need to address the logistics aspects of its operations. Today’s alternative fuels aren’t able to compete with heavy fuel oil (HFO) for milage, and green ships will have to deviate off course repeatedly to refill, resulting in increased congestion in already overcrowded ports.
Three years ago, six companies in the Nordic countries launched a joint project to pool their maritime expertise to tackle this dilemma. Initiated by Finnish technology group Wärtsilä, founding partners of the Zero Emissions Energy Distribution at Sea (ZEEDS) initiative also include ferry and logistics specialist DFDS, shipowner Grieg Maritime Group, engineering expert Aker Solutions, multinational energy major Equinor, and engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) leader Kvaerner.
The consortium’s concept was to create a chain of offshore clean energy hubs strategically located close to Northern Europe’s busiest shipping corridors capable of producing, storing and distributing renewable fuels to vessels in transit, thus eliminating the need for clean-powered vessels to make frequent shore deviations to refuel.
“If successful, the same model could be scaled up to serve global trade lanes supplying the world fleet,” explains Matt Duke, CEO of Grieg Maritime Group.
Since its launch in 2019, ZEEDS has attracted participation from over 60 different companies and added three new workstreams: green ammonia propulsion, green ammonia distribution vessels and a green ammonia onshore supply chain infrastructure, which will serve as a pilot concept for the offshore energy hub concept.
Green ammonia supply chain
The initiative has now moved a step closer to the realisation of a project to develop its first green ammonia supply chain for shipping after securing a key class approval for a proposed newbuild bunkering tanker to transport the fuel, with classification society DNV granting Approval in Principle (AiP) for the MS Green Ammonia, which will both run on and carry the fuel as cargo.
“That means the vessel concept being developed by Wärtsilä and Grieg Edgeis feasible and can now be realised, with planned delivery of the newbuild in 2024,” according to Nicolai Grieg, head of Grieg Edge, the innovation arm of the Grieg Maritime Group.
“Getting the approval was not unexpected,” he adds, “but still something we are happy to announce. It is a major milestone in getting one of the first green ammonia-fuelled vessels in operation.”
The 120m-long tanker will have a cargo capacity of 7,500m3 ammonia and will be able to load up to 1,000m3 per hour. It will be powered by a Wärtsilä W25DF ammonia engine.
Making the Arctic emission-free
The ZEEDS Arctic project is looking to build a combined green hydrogen and ammonia plant at Berlevåg in northern Norway. The facility, with initial capacity of 100MW, would produce green ammonia from water and renewable power supplied by the nearby Raggovidda wind park and is planned to be up and running by the end of 2026, having passed a feasibility study and concept phase. The project hopes to cut about 200,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year.
Green ammonia produced by the hydrogen plant, which is being developed jointly by Aker Clean Hydrogen and local energy company Varanger Kraft, would be able to supply shipping as well as offshore installations and off-grid power plants in the remote Arctic region. The new ice-classed tanker, designed by LMG Marine, is a vital element in the value chain as it would be used to transport green ammonia produced at the plant to Longyearbyen on Svalbard, where it would replace energy supplies from a coal-fired plant nearing the end of its lifetime.
In addition, the vessel will provide green ammonia for ship-to-ship bunkering as well as for onshore storage facilities along the Norwegian coast to supply clean energy for local industry.
Having made significant progress on the technical side, the ZEEDS consortium is now working on the commercial element by lining up industrial consumers for green ammonia supplies. Governmental support will be vital to kickstart the market, according to Duke.
“To ensure a quick transition in shipping, we need policymakers to support the development of a market for alternative fuels,” he says. “We need arrangements to reduce the opex gap between clean and carbon-rich fuel, such as differential contracts.”