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The Potential Role of Ammonia as Marine Fuel—Based on Energy Systems Modeling and Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis


To reduce the climate impact of shipping, the introduction of alternative fuels is required. There is a range of different marine fuel options but ammonia, a potential zero carbon fuel, has recently received a lot of attention. The purpose of this paper is to assess the prospects for ammonia as a future fuel for the shipping sector in relation to other marine fuels. The assessment is based on a synthesis of knowledge in combination with: (i) energy systems modeling including the cost-effectiveness of ammonia as marine fuel in relation to other fuels for reaching global climate targets; and (ii) a multi-criteria decision analysis (MCDA) approach ranking marine fuel options while considering estimated fuel performance and the importance of criteria based on maritime stakeholder preferences. In the long-term and to reach global GHG reduction, the energy systems modeled indicate that the use of hydrogen represents a more cost-effective marine fuel option than ammonia. However, in the MCDA covering more aspects, we find that ammonia may be almost as interesting for shipping related stakeholders as hydrogen and various biomass-based fuels. Ammonia may to some extent be an interesting future marine fuel option, but many issues remain to be solved before large-scale introduction.

Funding source: This research was funded by the Swedish Energy Agency, grant number 47479-1 Pathways towards 50% reduction of GHGs from shipping until 2050 and the Swedish Transport Administration’s industry program Sustainable shipping led by the Swedish Maritime Competence Centre (Lighthouse), grant number FS2_2019 The potential of ammonia as fuel for shipping and FP2_E_2020 Assessment of hydrogen, ammonia and battery-electric propulsion for future zero carbon shipping.
Related subjects: Applications & Pathways
Countries: Sweden

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