How can maritime shipping transition to green ammonia as fuel?

Image description coming soon
Aerial view of container ships in port being loaded and unloaded.

The global maritime shipping industry is a complex and hard-to-abate sector.

It transports over 11 billion tons of goods each year, and over 80% of all goods are carried by sea in one or more points in their lifecycle.

There are around 63,000 ships in the global merchant fleet and the problems with decarbonising all of these vessels are significant: most ocean voyages are too far and batteries too heavy to rely on electrification; ships need reactive power to ensure safety in bad weather conditions or unexpected circumstances; and whatever that power source is has to be globally available.

It is widely recognised that transitioning to green ammonia would overcome these challenges. This Sprint aims to couple the economics of ammonia production with an understanding of shipping routes and political intent to create a pathway to scale-up green ammonia as a shipping fuel.

Why this Sprint? Why now?

How ships are built and operated is governed largely by the United Nations International Maritime Organization (IMO), which has set a limited target of reducing shipping’s greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2050, compared to 2008 levels. However, the IMO is being lobbied by environmentalists and third-party organisations, as well as shipping organisations themselves, to adopt a net zero by 2050 target. Regional, national and state governments are also starting to look at shipping, how it affects their own climate targets and their progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

In addition, ships have a lifetime of 25 years or more – meaning many ships operating now or in the next few years will be in use beyond 2050.

All this means that shipping needs to know not only what fuel the industry will be using by mid-century but how to make that fuel available to tens-of-thousands of ships at thousands of ports around the world, and it needs that information soon. This Sprint brings together experts in green ammonia production, shipping and transport infrastructure planning, climate mitigation and economic analysis to determine a pathway the industries and governments can follow to transition the industry to green ammonia.

Want to know more?

We are building our network of interested researchers from Oxford and beyond, as well as potential policy partners, contact us directly below.

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