Finnish shipowner Meriaura is the latest owner to commit to developing an ammonia-fuelled cargo ship.

The coaster company has teamed up with compatriot technology giant Wartsila for the vessel, as well as fuel provider Green NortH2 Energy.

The ship will be equipped with Wartsila’s modular multi-fuel main engines for delivery in 2024.

Green NortH2 Energy will fuel the ship with green ammonia produced with renewable electricity.

Full operations with ammonia are planned for 2026. No shipyard has yet been revealed.

The vessel is designed to trade in the heavy project cargo segment together with Meriaura’s existing open deck carriers.

Besides ammonia, the unit will be powered by bio oil or diesel.

Meriaura said it has a long history as a forerunner of renewable energy solutions for shortsea shipping activities.

“This is a natural step in Meriaura’s future fleet portfolio, complementing the fuel mix together with our in-house biofuel production. This collaboration supports our ongoing newbuilding programme and carbon neutrality goals,” added chairman Jussi Malkia.

The project is a continuation of the ship development cooperation between Green NortH2 Energy’s parent company Elomatic and Meriaura, which was started to renew Lake Saimaa’s traffic.

No utopian dream

However, Russia’s attack on Ukraine moved the project from Saimaa to the sea, the companies said.

“The contract shows the significance of our green energy project. This is a great way to speed up the green transition, which is no longer a utopia but a reality,” added Jussi Ylinen, chief executive of Green NortH2 Energy.

Last year, Meriaura said it was preparing its first 100% carbon-neutral transport concept.

The plan is to use biofuel and batteries on a new ship type, while automating cargo handling and increasing digitalisation.

The company said a 2024 target date has been set for what it called the first transport project based on renewable energy since the era of large sailing ships.