In a major technological breakthrough, a Belgian joint venture (JV) has launched a new medium-speed dual-fuel engine that will advance the uptake of hydrogen as an alternative fuel, underpinning the EU New Green Deal and pending IMO carbon intensity standards for shipping
The availability of a medium-speed dual-fuel engine will allow hydrogen to be burned by larger seagoing vessels, critical for advancing decarbonisation in the shipping sector and, for that matter, rail and power generation applications.
At a press event, BeHydro, a JV between medium-speed engine producer ABC and shipping line CMB, announced the commercial launch of dual-fuel BeHydro engines for marine, rail and power generation applications. By injecting and burning hydrogen, the medium-speed BeHydro engines will produce 85% less CO2 emissions than a standard diesel engine, according to the company.
“BeHydro has already received its first order for two 2-MW dual-fuel engines that will be installed on board the HydroTug,” said ABC chief executive Tim Berckmoes. “This vessel is the very first hydrogen tugboat in the world and will be deployed by the Port of Antwerp.”
Over the past three years, BeHydro has developed, produced and tested a prototype dual-fuel (hydrogen-diesel) engine with a capacity of 1 MW. The JV expects to scale up this technology to produce engines of up to 10 MW. In a first phase, 100 hydrogen-powered engines can be produced per year. Additionally, BeHydro plans to release an engine that will burn only hydrogen by Q2 2021.
An owner of dry bulk, container and chemical tankers, CMB formed an innovation arm CMB.Tech following its acquisition of Revolve Technologies in July 2019. CMB.Tech focuses on hydrogen and low-carbon technologies, energy-saving solutions, digital fleet performance monitoring and weather routeing.
CMB.Tech is collaborating with Japanese shipbuilder Tsuneishi Facilities & Craft on constructing a hydrogen-powered passenger ferry for delivery in 2021.
CMB is also developing the hydrogen-powered crew transfer vessel (CTV) Hydrocat 1 with Windcat Workboats, a unit of US-based OSV owner SEACOR Marine. The CTV will have dual-fuel hydrogen-diesel propulsion, with the capability of using ‘green hydrogen’ produced by renewable energy as a fuel without compromising the vessel’s performance, while cutting emissions.
CMB also owns Hydroville, the first seagoing, dual-fuel diesel hydrogen passenger vessel, commissioned in 2017.
CMB chief executive Alexander Saverys said “BeHydro reinforces the recently announced EU vision on hydrogen and proves that the energy transition for large-scale applications is possible today. These include main engines for coastal shipping, inland shipping and tugboats, auxiliary engines for deepsea vessels, but also trains and electricity generators for hospitals and data centres.” Added Mr Saverys, “In theory, any large diesel engine can be replaced by a BeHydro engine. The hydrogen future starts today.”
Shipping targeted by ‘cap and trade’ scheme
BeHydo’s launch of a hydrogen-diesel engine aligned with the announcement this week by the European Commission of its plan to step up its ambitions regarding the reduction of GHG emissions and reaching climate neutrality by 2050. The EC wants to reduce GHG emissions (as compared with 1990 levels) by 55% or more by 2030. Legislative proposals are expected to be presented by June 2021 to implement the new target, including revising and expanding the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS), adapting the Effort Sharing Regulation and the framework for land use emissions, reinforcing energy efficiency and renewable energy policies, and strengthening CO2 standards for road vehicles.
This week the European Parliament voted in favour of a 40% reduction in CO2 emissions from the international and EU shipping sector, while including it in the ETS. Ships 5,000 gt and above would have to comply with the ‘cap and trade’ scheme.
Revenue generated by auctioning allowances under the ETS would be collected in an Ocean Fund created for the period from 2022 to 2030 to make ships more energy-efficient and to support investment in innovative technologies and infrastructure, such as alternative fuel and green ports.
Intertanko technical advisor Dragos Rauta said the proposal by the European Parliament would have “serious consequences for trade with EU countries, since allowances would need to be purchased for all CO2 emissions reported under the current EU MRV regulation.”
Continued Mr Rauta “Based on total CO2 emissions reported to EU MRV Thetis for 2018 (142.5 tonnes) and 2019 (135.7 tonnes) and based on the current price of €25 (US$30) per unit price for one tonne of CO2 emission, the aggregate cost for ships trading to EU ports could be as high as €3.5Bn (US$4.1Bn) per year, with a heavy load for ships engaged in long voyages.”