Do shipping policy makers need to address the bun-fight for green power?

The race to get the green fuel

International shipping could need as much green ammonia in 2050 as there is ordinary ammonia being produced today according to the International Renewable Energy Agency. A new report from IRENA on decarbonisation pathways for international shipping suggests that there could be a battle emerging to allocate renewable resources to shipping. IRENA Deputy director Roland Roesch joined a recent webinar by the International Chamber of Shipping and laid out the Agency’s predictions in detail.


IRENA’s report looks at four scenarios for international shipping towards 2050. For its 1.5-degree scenario, where international shipping plays its comparative role in greenhouse has mitigation under the Paris Agreement, IRENA says renewable fuels will account for 70% of the fuel mix.


With this scenario international shipping will need 46 million tonnes of green hydrogen by 2050, of which 73% will be needed to make e-ammonia for international shipping alone, which is comparable to the current (non-green) global ammonia production alone. 17% will be needed for e-methanol and the remaining 10% will be used directly as liquid hydrogen through fuel cells or internal combustion.


It works out he said that 183 million tonnes of renewable ammonia would be needed for international shipping by 2050, and that this figure will need to be met with green ammonia production and blue ammonia production (using hydrocarbon-based ammonia production with carbon capture) as a transition pathway.


Green hydrogen, and by association green ammonia, needs to be produced using electricity derived from renewable sources (wind and solar mainly), which will also be allocated by nation states in electric grids or sold to neighbouring countries for their power needs.


The report can be found here and it details IRENA’s assumptions about changes to global trade in the transition to 2050 (particularly hydrocarbon shipping), the impact of energy efficiency measures on large international vessels on fuel needs, and the future of biofuels.

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