Fuel Cell Tech: In Shipping's Decarbonisation Pathway

by Ship & Bunker News Team
Wednesday May 29, 2024

Fuel cells can contribute to the reduction of green house gas emission from ships but are unlikely to hold sway as a viable substitute for main engine propulsion in the short to medium term.

The conclusion comes from a new study of fuel cells from the Maersk Mc-Kinney Moller Centre for Zero Carbon Shipping.

The desktop report steered away from seeing fuel cells as a ship's principal mode of propulsion. High initial costs associated with this form of energy make its viability more of a longterm consideration, it found.

However, the technology does have an impact "in the auxiliary load onboard ships, rather than propulsion", according to the report's findings

"Fuel cells could reduce both onboard fuel demand and the resulting greenhouse gas emissions," the report said. "These new technologies do not appear to require design modifications that would affect ship operations or costs beyond what can be expected for the combination of alternative fuels and internal combustion engines."

The report indicated that "on top of the high costs currently forecast for alternative fuels – which appear hard to compare to conventional fuels in the absence of a carbon tax – the additional cost premium of fuel cells affects their competitiveness in the short and medium term".

Over the longer term, "the financial outlook for fuel cells improves but remains conditional on a carbon tax or similar mechanism", according to the report.

To access the the full report -- Technology mapping and techno-economic assessment of fuel cell applications for onboard auxiliary power -- click here.