A pilot project under Norway’s Green Ship Programme could result in fishing company Lerøy Havfisk building the first fishing vessel using ammonia as its fuel – and while there are possibilities for this, the reality is still some way off.
‘To begin with we are working on the options for using ammonia as fuel for the fishing fleet, but we are probably looking at three to six years ahead before we have practical answers to al the questions,’ said Lerøy Havfisk’s operations director Ronny Vågsholm.
Lerøy Havfisk AS is a subsidiary of Lerøy Seafood Group, which has clear ambitions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 46% by 2030. The company currently operates ten fishing vessels.
‘Finding good solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is a matter of urgency. We have therefore joined the Green Ship Programme, in collaboration with, among others, Fiskebåt, to map out what is possible to achieve.’
The pilot project, which involves Stein Oksnes and Ronny Vågsholm from Lerøy Havfisk, will examine ammonia as an energy source, and it is divided into several work groups which will also take into consideration experiences from other climate-related projects.
‘The results of this work will be industry-wide, and provide insight into future directions. We hope that this project will give us knowledge that can help us to make safer choices in the future, both for us and for others who are in the same situation,’ he said.
The project will look at a number of aspects, such as how a reorganisation will affect the current operating pattern, whether this can possibly change, and what consequences this could entail.
Design will be looked at in relation to challenges with the layout of tanks, pipes and safety measures. Ammonia is a highly toxic gas, so preventing leaks is crucial. Large fuel tanks will also result in larger vessels, and a significant increase in vessel size is envisaged to make use of the potential alternative energy sources available today.
Larger vessels are not ideal, but this has to be considered, and the hope is that this work could also be a precursor to the emergence of alternative energy options that require less space.
According to Ronny Vågsholm testing engines that can run on a variety of fuels is already in progress, and for Lerøy Havfisk, consideration is being given to combinations of LNG, methanol and other energy sources.
‘There is some experience with LNG, but it also has its challenges in daily operations, not least in relation to supply, so with what we know today, this is not the solution for us,’ he said, adding that the fishing fleet has taken a number of measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants.
With support from the NOx Fund, a number of measures have been implemented on both new vessels and existing fleets.
‘We have done what we can do to reduce NOx and SOx emissions, so the fishing fleet is on the offensive in using new environmental technology. At the same time, we must look beyond the purely technological. We can probably achieve an even greater reduction of the total emissions of greenhouse gases by looking at fisheries policy,’ he said, suggesting greater flexibility in quotas and operational factors.
‘For cod trawlers, for example, a general license to use pelagic trawls could lead to a sharp reduction in the use of fuel. It is probably not practical to stop using demersal trawls, but we can use pelagic trawls more than we do today. Greater flexibility in quotas has been tried out and has given good results. For the fishing fleet, this is about setting up an operating pattern in a more efficient and energy-efficient way,’ Ronny Vågsholm said.