May 15, 2023 | Marine environment & clean shipping news

A new study from the West Australia – East Asia Iron Ore Green Corridor Consortium finds that ships powered by clean ammonia could be deployed on the iron ore trade routes between West Australia and East Asia by 2028 and reach 5% adoption by 2030.

Green corridors, specific trade routes where zero-emission shipping solutions are demonstrated and supported, are one of the key levers to aid the shipping industry and governments in the decarbonisation of the maritime sector. The study indicates that the core elements for implementation of a West Australia-East Asia green corridor – including deployment of ammonia-powered ships, access to clean ammonia (as the most likely zero-emission fuel to power the corridor), and the availability of bunkering infrastructure – are within reach, provided that the safety case for the use of ammonia as marine fuel is validated and accepted.

Findings suggest that it is possible to get clean ammonia-powered bulk carriers on the water by 2028, provided the development of key technologies, such as suitable engines, and regulations remain on track. Enough clean ammonia will likely be available to meet the corridor’s near and long-term requirements. Should production scale up as expected, the corridor’s demand could be fully met by Australian clean ammonia but could also be imported from other production locations globally. The study also shows that the Pilbara region of Australia is a viable option for bunkering on the route, avoiding costly deviations from the trade route, whilst Singapore remains well-positioned to serve as a bunkering hub.

Should the corridor develop in accordance with the scenario in the analysis, more than 20 vessels could operate on clean ammonia on the corridor by 2030, scaling up to roughly 360 vessels by 2050.

Johannah Christensen, CEO Global Maritime Forum said: ‘’The study demonstrates the industry’s keen interest to decarbonise their supply chain in the region. What is needed now to accelerate the development of this green corridor is public sector support.’’

The study outlines important conditions that must be in place for the green corridor approach to be successfully developed, including continued collaboration and coordinated action through the corridor’s value chain and the development of appropriate commercial frameworks. In parallel with this study, the Getting to Zero Coalition has established an Australia-East Asia Iron Ore Corridor Task Force to act as a collaborative industry forum to explore these issues.

The study is based on analysis by the Energy Transitions Commission, on behalf of the West Australia – East Asia Iron Ore Green Corridor Consortium, a collaboration between the Global Maritime Forum, BHP, Rio Tinto, Oldendorff Carriers, and Star Bulk Carriers. The study reinforces the corridor’s potential to be a first mover in shipping’s decarbonisation and builds on a previously published pre-feasibility report, which identified the iron ore shipping routes from West Australia to China and Japan as having favourable conditions for early action and the potential to have a large impact on the decarbonisation of the sector.

Scott Bergeron, MD Global Engagement and Sustainability, Oldendorff Carriers, said: “Being one of the founding members of the West Australia -East Asia Iron Ore Green Corridor Consortium was an excellent opportunity for Oldendorff Carriers to collaborate and share perspectives with the other Consortium members on the feasibility of reducing emissions on this strategic iron ore trade. We are pleased to join in sharing this feasibility assessment to show how a well-considered green corridor can facilitate our collective desire to decarbonize shipping with an alternative fuel. While outside the scope of this report, the safety concerns and environmental risks of ammonia have yet to be adequately addressed. As the safety of our crew is paramount, these challenges must be overcome to enable adoption.”

The study – Fuelling the decarbonisation of iron ore shipping between Western Australia and East Asia with clean ammoniacan be downloaded here.

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