23 Dec 2022, 13:13
Benjamin Wehrmann

Three planned ammonia-ready LNG bunker vessels aimed at bolstering Germany’s maritime energy transition


Clean Energy Wire

In order to bolster the capacity for importing liquefied natural gas (LNG), Germany will support the construction of three so-called LNG bunker vessels. Economy and climate minister Robert Habeck announced 62 million euros in state subsidies for several shipping companies in a consortium that is overseeing construction of the vessels at the Flensburg dockyard. Habeck described the energy transition at sea as a “herculean task” that will require storage capacities for both LNG and renewable fuels. “I’m glad that thanks to the efforts of everyone involved, the support of three new and innovative bunker vessels can still start this year. With these, it will be possible in the long run to store not only LNG but also ammonia,” the minister said. The vessels will bring Germany closer to achieving its goal of climate neutrality, he argued. The three bunker vessels will have capacities of 4,500 cubic metres each and can provide other ships in German and European ports with LNG. They are seen as the first step in establishing a “bunker infrastructure” for maritime energy trading in Europe, the ministry stated. While initially using fossil LNG, the bunkers are intended to also handle carbon neutral fuels that can supply seagoing vessels. “The bunker vessels are designed to store ammonia in the future and can be retrofitted accordingly,” which would still hinge on further technological and regulatory changes, the ministry added.

Due to Russia’s war in Ukraine and the ensuing energy trade conflict between Moscow and Europe, Germany is quickly building an LNG import infrastructure on its coast to substitute the loss in pipeline gas from Russia, with the first deliveries to the national gas grid having arrived in mid-December. The government has sought to alleviate concerns that its hasty ramp-up of LNG infrastructure could lead to lock-in effects for the fossil fuel that will cause an overcapacity in the next years and obstruct the country’s decarbonisation progress by promising to make infrastructure for liquid natural gas ready to also handle carbon-neutral alternatives like hydrogen and ammonia.

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