Hydrogen, biofuel, batteries and Chinese cruise construction will be among the top trends for next year in the passenger ship industry
The foundations have been laid for using hydrogen in the passenger ship sector and projects including the Hyseas III ferry and Norled’s hydrogen car ferries will allow hydrogen to be used more widely in the ferry sector.
Biofuel use is escalating within the ferry industry and will become much more mainstream, boosted by projects such as DFDS’ investment in a start-up company that produces biofuel.
Batteries have made great strides in both ferries and cruise ships in 2019 – expect this to lead to even greater deployment. The launch of E-ferry Ellen, Color Line’s Color Hybrid and the announcement that AIDA Cruises is to carry out a pilot operation of battery systems on board one of its cruise ships will contribute to greater take-up.
Finally, 2019 was the year that celebrated a milestone: the first cruise ship to be built by a Chinese shipyard was delivered. Expect this to have a big impact on cruise ship orders to Chinese shipyards in 2020.
Biofuel use is expected to gain pace in 2020 within the passenger ship industry. DFDS is investing in a start-up company that produces biofuel, MASH Energy, to develop a commercially viable alternative to fossil fuels. This biofuel is produced from agricultural waste, so not only meets the 2020 low sulphur directive but also future legislation which states that CO2 emissions must be cut by at least 50% in 2050 compared to 2008.
The challenge is making biofuel readily available to the ferry sector. Greater quantities of it need to be produced to make it more cost competitive – something which DFDS’ investment will aid. It aims to produce sufficient volumes to make biofuel commercially viable.
The biofuel will be tested on a DFDS ferry to verify and ensure it is suited to a ferry and its specific requirements.
Red Funnel is operating the main engines and generators of Red Falcon as a ‘testbed’ for Green-D biofuel, which consists of hydrotreated vegetable oil. This will play its role in making biofuel available to other ferry operators, flagging up any impact, like DFDS, on maintenance regimes, reliability and fuel consumption.
These projects make biofuel a real alternative to fossil fuels.
Enter Chinese cruise construction
SunStone Ships’ Greg Mortimer was delivered in 2019 – expect more orders to follow in 2020. As the first cruise ship delivered from a yard in China, it will no doubt influence other operators to follow suit. And importantly, the delivery was a success, with SunStone Ships “very pleased” with its newbuild, as its chief executive told PST.
Owners can benefit from longer loan terms when building cruise ships in China. Stringent laws in Europe mean the maximum time for a shipbuilding loan to be paid back is 12 years. In China, there are no such laws, so cruise operators can negotiate a longer period for loan payback. This will be a compelling argument for operators.
Hydrogen: open the floodgates
Norwegian ferry operator Norled is leading the way in developing hydrogen power by constructing two hybrid ferries – the first ferries powered by hydrogen in Norway.
Using hydrogen as a marine fuel makes sense as it meets all upcoming emissions legislation. But there are challenges to its use including bunkering infrastructure and hydrogen availability. This is where Norled’s work will help to make hydrogen available.
Norled is working on two projects with partners to develop the supply chains and infrastructure needed. An initiative working on ‘blue hydrogen’, based on natural gas, steam forming and carbon capture to create hydrogen; and ‘green hydrogen’, using electrolysis to create a hydrogen supply value chain.
Crucially for the industry, Norled said it is using these first projects to get the energy companies interested and present a future market for them, so they invest in hydrogen and its production in Norway.
And Scotland’s Ferguson shipyard is building a hydrogen fuel cell ferry, which will pave the way for other passenger ship projects to follow. HySeas III is a fuel-cell project with a difference – the hydrogen is produced using surplus renewable energy capacity. The project will help develop hydrogen prescriptive rules, which will aid the ferry industry, as a risk-based alternative design process will be be used.
Electrifying the passenger ship industry
Battery use has been steadily growing within the ferry industry – but expect this to go up a notch next year following some groundbreaking newbuilds delivered in 2019. Perhaps the most notable is the fully-electric E-ferry Ellen.
It will travel a greater distance than any other all-electric ferry and will have the largest battery pack installed at sea.
The project is supported by the European research and innovation initiative Horizon 2020 and is thus required to log all data to publish concrete numbers on the operational costs of running a ferry. This will encourage other ferry operators by giving them the evidence on return on investment to make a commitment to fully electric propulsion.
And it is not just the ferry sector – batteries have started to be used in the cruise sector, expect this to escalate in 2020. An important milestone is the announcement in 2019 that AIDA Cruises is to carry out a pilot operation of battery systems on board one of its cruise ships. The company plans to incorporate the experiences of this pilot operation of battery systems on board other AIDA and Costa cruise ships.
There are challenges to using batteries in cruise ships. But these are being ironed out as the technology develops. Batteries have become compact and lighter as energy density is increasing, so for the same weight and volumetric dimensions, there is more energy, making them more suitable for use in cruise ships.