Strong Increases in Ammonia and Hydrogen R&D in the Past Six Months

increase in projects for zero emmissions from shipping
(file photo)

Published Mar 17, 2021 2:50 PM by The Maritime Executive

The number of projects and demonstrations underway to facilitate shipping’s transition to zero emissions increased dramatically in the past six months according to a new report from industry-led Getting to Zero Coalition. The strongest increases have come in the number of projects focusing on ammonia and hydrogen as well as the number of initiatives underway in Asia according to the mapping project. 

The number of pilots and demonstrations focusing on ship technologies, fuel production as well as bunkering and recharging facilities identified in the mapping project grew by more than 60 percent in the past six months to a total of 106, up from 66 in the first report. The Getting to Zero Coalition’s biannual Mapping of Zero Emission Pilots and Demonstration Projects outlines the spread and scope of existing zero-emission projects, encompassing the full value chain of technologies needed to facilitate shipping’s transition to zero-emission fuels.

“We see an increased specialization in small and large ship technology projects. There is an uptake in hydrogen-based ship technology projects, but particularly in ammonia projects. For fuel production projects, we see a continued trend towards hydrogen-based Power-to-X fuel production,” says Jesse Fahnestock, Project Director at the Global Maritime Forum and lead of the Getting to Zero Coalition’s Motivating First Movers workstream. “In the last six months, around 10 percent of the projects have increased in size or ambition or moved from the concept study stage to the demonstration stage. This shows a tangible move towards raising ambition and scaling up existing projects.”

Three trends emerge from the 106 projects that are categorized by their project focus, project type, fuel choice, geographical location, and the existence of public funding. 2020 saw a notable increase in the focus on large ammonia vessels. Ten large ammonia demonstration projects have been launched, bringing the total to 14. For small ship projects, there is a continuing trend towards exploring hydrogen and battery power or a combination of the two. For fuel production projects, the mapping shows a preference towards Power-to-X fuel production with hydrogen as an input.

“The new mapping includes twice as many Asian projects. Based on the timing of the projects that we have uncovered, we judge that there is an increase in activities in Asia. It is also encouraging to see an expansion of new geographies now pursuing zero-emission pilot projects,” says Fahnestock.

The geographical spread of the mapping has become more representative in the second edition according to the Coalition. This is reflected in the number of Asian projects which has increased from 16 in the first edition to 31 in the second edition. Most projects in the mapping, 71, however, have a significant connection to Europe. 

Of the 106 projects in the mapping, just over half, 54, are known to receive some amount of direct public funding. The majority of this funding originates in Europe. The largest awards of public funding in the mapping continue to go to large-scale fuel production projects.

“Our mapping aims to support potential first movers in kickstarting shipping’s zero-emission future. By making the full list of projects publicly available today, frontrunners can draw upon learnings from other projects and improve confidence in undertaking new innovations that will get the industry on a zero-emission path,” says Fahnestock.

The Coalition is committed to having commercially viable zero-emission vessels operating along deep sea trade routes by 2030, supported by the necessary infrastructure for scalable zero-carbon energy sources including production, distribution, storage, and bunkering. The Mapping of Zero Emission Pilots and Demonstration Projects will be updated on a continuing basis, with future reports being released biannually.