Scenarios for a Supply and Demand Network for Green Ammonia

in Decarbonization, Research, Trends by

FleetMon supports students and research partners when it comes to providing AIS data for academic purposes. In 2020, a Ph.D. student from the Department of Engineering Science of the University of Oxford reached out to us to receive certain AIS data for a project on the decarbonization of crucial shipping routes.

Read a guest article provided by Professor René Bañares-Alcántara, Reader at the Department of Engineering Science, University of Oxford.

Supply and demand of green ammonia as a shipping fuel

The IMO ambitions to cut 2008 GHG emission levels in half by 2050 can only be achieved by switching to non-fossil fuels.  Green ammonia – produced from air, water, and renewable energy, is increasingly considered as the most suitable zero-carbon marine fuel for long distance shipping as it offers an favourable  balance between heating value, volumetric energy density, and temperature and pressure of storage.  With large-scale green ammonia production facilities being built and planning to start production in the mid-2020’s, the dynamics of future supply and demand networks (production, storage and distribution) was investigated with a model to select which fuelling ports should initially be converted to green ammonia so as to minimise fuel costs for a fleet of vessels operating along a container service.  In [Forbes, 2020] several case studies around the shipping cycle demand of 36 Ultra Large Container Vessels (ULCV) operating along the Ocean Alliance FA3 service joining the ports of Shanghai and Rotterdam were explored, some of the results were published in [Nayak-Luke et al., 2021].  Green ammonia can be transported in the network using five methods: inland by pipeline, rail, and/or HGVs; and offshore by MGCs and LGCs (see Figure).

Use of AIS Data

AIS position data was obtained from FleetMon for nine vessel movements over the course of 6 months (Jun–Dec 2019) with a resolution of 1 hour.  Using this historical AIS vessel and port call data, a model calculates the ammonia consumed by a ULCV between ports.  First, the Speed Through Water (STW) of vessels was determined by calculating the velocity of the ULCV relative to the ocean velocity (from the meteorological data) at the vessel’s longitude and latitude.  AIS vessel Port calls data for each of the nine vessels recorded the ports the vessels entered, with their arrival and departure times.  The complete dataset was verified by plotting the route taken and overlaying the STW vector at each position sample.  The instantaneous power of the vessel is assumed to be constant over the duration of a sample because no data on acceleration is recorded using the AIS system.  Power is then converted into energy by multiplying it by the respective time interval.


The results conclude that Singapore, Antwerp and Malta (out of twelve ports considered) would be the optimal ports to convert to green ammonia initially.  These ports can be supplied using four of the nine production facilities in the network: Cape Grim (Australia), Sonnblick (Austria), List (Denmark), and Malin Head (Ireland).  In the optimal solution, the overall green ammonia demand is an average of 7,000 tonnes per day and would save a total of 795,780 tonnes of CO2 emissions for a cycle completed by the fleet of 36 vessels, i.e. a CO2 reduction of 22,105 tonnes per ULCV cycle.


  • [Forbes, 2020]  C. Forbes.  “Zero Emission Vessels for Shipping: Optimising a Green Ammonia Production, Distribution and Port Bunkering Network”, MEng in Engineering Science report, University of Oxford, July 2020.
  • [Nayak-Luke et al., 2021]  R.M. Nayak-Luke, C. Forbes, Z. Cesaro, R. Banares-Alcantara, and K.H.R. Rouwenhorst “Chapter 8.  Techno-Economic Aspects of Production, Storage and Distribution of Ammonia” in Valera-Medina A. and R. Banares-Alcantara, “Techno-Economic Challenges of Green Ammonia as an Energy Vector”, Elsevier,, 2021.

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