Some of the world’s largest players in their respective sectors of cruise shipping, shipbuilding and energy infrastructure are joining forces to develop what would be the world’s first hydrogen-powered fuel cell cruise ship
The Italian tripartite includes MSC Group’s cruise division, shipbuilder Fincantieri and energy infrastructure operator Snam which inked a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to initially carry out a feasibility study on designing and constructing the world’s first major hydrogen-powered cruise ship, which would allow zero-emissions operations in some areas, as well as on developing the related hydrogen bunkering infrastructure.
Produced through using renewable energy and electrolysis, ‘green’ hydrogen can be used to generate electricity through fuel cells, emitting only water vapour and heat.
Using a zero-carbon fuel such as ‘green’ hydrogen is critical to decarbonising international shipping, and several non-cruise hydrogen-powered vessels are under development.
While noting the company has environmental sustainability at its core, MSC Group cruise division executive vice chairman Pierfrancesco Vago said, “Today production levels remain low and hydrogen fuel is still far from being available on a large scale. With this project we want to introduce this promising technology into our fleet and industry, while at the same time sending the strongest possible signal to the market about how seriously we take our commitments to the environment.”
Additionally, Mr Vago hoped this MOU would prompt others into action to develop the technology and infrastructure to support the uptake of hydrogen. “As we move forward with the development of the necessary technology, I am sure that energy suppliers will also accelerate production, and governments and the public sector will intervene with the necessary support for a project that is critical to the decarbonisation of cruises and navigation."
Fincantieri chief executive Giuseppe Bono added, “Every opportunity to develop new solutions and technologies is a source of growth for us. This allows us to offer our customers the best of innovation to help minimise the environmental impact.”
Snam chief executive Marco Alvera said “Maritime transport today accounts for about 3% of CO2 emissions globally. The use of hydrogen can contribute to the achievement of the goal of net-zero emissions in this sector as well as in all hard-to-abate ones. He said Snam was “strongly committed to promoting sustainable mobility on road, rail and sea through concrete actions that promote the use of renewable gases such as hydrogen and bioLNG. This agreement is part of a broader strategy aimed at leveraging Snam’s experience, skills and technologies in renewable gases and energy efficiency, with the aim of contributing to the full decarbonisation of the shipping chain, including ports and logistics, which will be increasingly important in our economies.
Over the next 12 months, three companies will study key factors related to the development of large hydrogen-powered cruise ships. These include organising onboard spaces to house new H2 technologies and fuel cells, defining the technical parameters of onboard systems, calculating potential savings on greenhouse gas emissions and a technical and economic analysis of hydrogen supply and related infrastructure.
MSC Group’s cruise division is targeting zero emissions for its fleet operations by 2050. To achieve this, MSC is working in partnership with a large number of shipyards, suppliers, manufacturers and other organisations, as well as investing in different technologies and solutions for its fleet.
Hydrogen is not the only alternative fuel being looked at for the MSC fleet. MSC is building LNG-powered cruise ships of the Meraviglia Plus-class and MSC World-class.
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