A feasibility study launched by Anglo-Dutch energy major Shell in partnership with Singaporean maritime companies would trial a hydrogen fuel cell in an existing roro vessel by 2022, paving the way for zero-emissions technology for shipping
Shell believes hydrogen fuel cells have the greatest potential to help the shipping sector achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.
“This trial is an important step in demonstrating the applicability of hydrogen and fuel cells on ships,” said Shell Shipping and Maritime, Asia Pacific & Middle East general manager Nick Potter. “We see fuel cells and hydrogen as a promising pathway for decarbonising shipping and working with partners in this way will develop our understanding of this critical technology. This trial is a testament to the thriving sector ecosystem in Singapore that makes this possible. It is also part of our ambition to help accelerate progress towards net-zero emissions in the shipping sector, an important pillar of the Singapore economy.”
Shell, the charterer of the trial vessel and the hydrogen fuel provider, is working with shipbuilder SembCorp Marine and its wholly owned subsidiary LMG Marin, which will design the fuel cell and retrofit the vessel, and vessel owner Penguin International, which owns the roro vessel.
Built in Penguin’s east Malaysian shipyard, the roro vessel, Penguin Tenacity, is a conventional steel-hulled landing craft. Fitted with ramps at each end, Penguin Tenacity has an overall length of 78.6 m, beam of 13.4 m, 2.60 m depth and loaded draught of 1.55 m, with a dwt of 387 mt. Each ramp door has a maximum lifting capacity of 50 mt.
Propulsion for the landing craft is supplied by two Yanmar 6AYM-WET diesel engines, generating 610 kW at 1,900 rpm that drive two Veth VZ-550 Z-drives. Two Cummins 6B5.9-GM83 diesel generators supply auxiliary power.
The trial will develop and install an auxiliary power unit proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell on Penguin Tenacity, which transports goods, vehicles and equipment on lorries between the mainland and Shell’s Pulau Bukom manufacturing site. The team will first carry out a feasibility study with the intention to install the fuel cell next year. Penguin Tenacity will operate for a trial period of 12 months and customers and partners will be welcomed to participate.
Sembcorp Marine president and chief executive Wong Weng Sun said the project with Shell “holds exciting possibilities for decarbonisation in the marine and energy industry.” He added hydrogen fuel cells have the potential to “revolutionise shipping and transportation,” enabling international shipping to become greener and achieve the IMO 2050 target to reduce total greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50%.
Calling hydrogen the new frontier in alternative fuels in shipping, Penguin International managing director James Tham said “This trial is significant for Singapore and for the maritime community at large. The outcome of this trial, which is based on retrofitting a roro which we operate for Shell, could quickly bring many shipowners to the forefront of this alternative fuel. As a Singaporean shipbuilder, owner and operator, we believe in playing an active part in decarbonisation.”
The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore chief executive Quah Ley Hoon was equally enthused by the project, saying, “We appreciate the confidence the companies have placed on Singapore in trialling the applicability of this new technology within the Port of Singapore. This project, together with the other joint industry projects, complements efforts in Singapore to come up with commercially viable solutions to decarbonise the industry.”
In November 2020, Shell Singapore outlined a 10-year plan for how the company could make significant investments in people, assets and capabilities to repurpose its core business and aim to cut its own CO2 emissions in the country by about a third within a decade. Shell has set out its target to be a net-zero emissions energy business by 2050, in step with society and with customers.
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