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MOL and NYK Join Project to Supply First Ammonia-Fueled Power Plant 

ammonia carrier
Project seeks to leverage MOL and NYK's work with ammonia carriers (MOL concept vessel)

Published Nov 21, 2022 5:46 PM by The Maritime Executive

Japanese power generation company JERA is starting a project with shipping companies Mitsui O.S.K. Lines and NYK to study the development of large-scale ammonia shipping. The project provides a focus for the shipping companies which have independently studied large ammonia carriers as JERA calls for starting the supply chain by the late 2020s.

Each of the shipping companies has been working on the designs for a large ammonia carrier. MOL working with Mitsubishi Shipbuilding Co. and Namura Shipbuilding launched a project a year ago looking at expanding the shipping capabilities for ammonia. They noted the challenges of handling ammonia, noting that because of the complexities of transportation and the limited applications, maritime transport of ammonia is currently limited. After having been out of the sector for five years, MOL purchased an ammonia carrier in May 2021 while noting that ammonia is currently used mainly as a raw material for fertilizer but seeing the longer-term potential as an energy source.

JERA which has 26 thermal power stations in Japan and another 30 projects in 10 countries around the world has previously announced that it is exploring converting to ammonia-fueled operations. The company has said that its Hekinan Thermal Power Station, a 30-year-old facility near Nagoya and which is the largest coal-fired power plant in Japan is the pilot project for the conversion to ammonia. Since February of this year, JERA has been conducting an international competitive bidding process for ammonia fuel procurement, including an opportunity to participate in a fuel ammonia production project.

The next step the company says is the development of large ammonia carriers and the ammonia fuel supply chain, both of which would be the world’s firsts. Under the agreements with MOL and NYK, the research will focus on developing large ammonia fuel carriers suitable for the domestic thermal power plants and receiving stations as well as building an ammonia transportation and receiving system. They also envision powering the vessel with ammonia-fueled engines.

Two months ago, NYK became the first shipping company to receive approval in principle (AiP) from ClassNK for an ammonia bunkering vessel. NYK reported that it is making progress in the research and design of ammonia vessels and the bunkering process as part of its efforts focusing on ammonia carriers and ammonia-fueled tugboats.

MOL looks to build off its existing development work with the J-FLEX prototype for an ammonia-fueled large ammonia carrier which has been underway for the past year. The company said the concept was to create a vessel that could transport a large amount of liquefied ammonia and have the flexibility of operating from Japanese ports where coal is currently imported.

JERA believes these efforts will help to establish and expand the supply chain for green fuels such as ammonia. By expanding commercial opportunities in cooperation with partners such as NYK and MOL and with domestic utilities they plan to contribute that contribute to the development of a safe and stable supply of ammonia as a fuel.