Zero-Emissions Ships Using New Fuels to Get Safety Guidelines

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The Prime Minister’s Office

The government plans to devise safety guidelines for ammonia- and hydrogen-fueled ships to promote zero-emissions vessels that do not emit greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide.

The guidelines will be established to prevent accidents involving such ships and provide guidance to reduce production costs by standardizing equipment. The government aims to formulate the guidelines in fiscal 2025 or later.

The Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry established a public-private council for the decarbonization of the shipping industry last year. Working with shipping and shipbuilding companies, the council is expected to begin developing new types of ships fueled by ammonia and hydrogen, which are the focus of international competition.

However, ammonia and hydrogen have different issues to be tackled than those for the existing heavy fuel oil, because no international safety standards exist for such fuels.

For example, burning ammonia produces nitrous oxide, which has a greenhouse effect greater than that of CO2. Although technologies to suppress that effect have been established to a certain extent, there is room for improvement.

The government plans to specify operational procedures and safety measures for fuel transfers to ships and delineate danger zones for fuel leakage, while referencing guidelines for liquefied natural gas-fueled ships that were established in 2013.

The guidelines will also stipulate precautions to be taken during nighttime fuel transfers; cargo loading, transporting and unloading; and passenger boarding and disembarking.