Fuel cells of megawatt-scale will be developed for merchant ships after an agreement was signed in Europe between leading technology producers
ABB has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with hydrogen technologies specialist Hydrogène de France (HDF) to jointly manufacture megawatt-scale fuel cells.
These will be designed for powering oceangoing vessels, including dry bulk carriers, container ships and tankers.
This agreement comes as IMO is aiming to cut greenhouse gas emissions from the industry within 30 years, setting a global target to cut annual emissions by at least 50% by 2050 from 2008 levels.
To achieve this, IMO needs radical change in ship propulsion worldwide, away from hydrocarbons, and hydrogen fuel cells are seen as a viable option.
HDF and ABB will collaborate on the assembly and production of the fuel cell power plant for marine applications. This builds on an existing collaboration, announced in June 2018, with Ballard Power Systems, a global provider of proton exchange membrane fuel cell solutions.
HDF and ABB will optimise fuel cell manufacturing capabilities based on power plant jointly developed by ABB and Ballard. These will be manufactured at HDF’s new facility in Bordeaux, France, said HDF chief executive Damien Havard.
These cells will transform chemical energy from hydrocarbon manufactured by electricity from renewable energy into electricity for powering ships.
ABB Marine & Ports managing director Juha Koskela expects maritime markets will be open to hydrogen fuel cell technology. “With the ever-increasing demand for solutions that enable sustainable, responsible shipping, we are confident that fuel cells will play an important role in helping the marine industry meet CO2 reduction targets,” Mr Koskela said. “Signing the MOU with HDF brings us a step closer to making this technology available for powering ocean-going vessels.”
Fuel cells are becoming widely considered as one of the most promising solutions for reducing harmful pollutants.
This zero-emissions technology is capable of powering ships sailing short distances, such as offshore support vessels, ferries and tugs or supporting auxiliary energy requirements of larger vessels.