Hydrogen may not be the fuel of the future for all segments of the shipping industry. File Image / Pixabay
The increased storage space needed for hydrogen versus conventional bunker fuels may limit its uses for some parts of the shipping industry, with some ship types needing to give up as much as 60% of their space to take it on, according to industry body Hydrogen Europe.
Hydrogen is one of the main contenders as an alternative marine energy source as the shipping industry seeks to move away from greenhouse gas-emitting conventional bunker fuels. But one of the main disadvantages is its storage space requirements -- as much as three times that needed for marine gasoil.
"When you look at a cruise ship, if you would like to put compressed hydrogen on it, you will basically have 60% of the ship carrying fuel oil," Grzegorz Pawelec, innovation and funding manager for Hydrogen Europe, said in a webinar hosted by Riviera Maritime Media Thursday.
"But for some short-sea applications, it takes only 5% of the cargo carrying capacity away, and that's not meaningless but it's manageable.
"It's a question of what ship type you're talking about -- for some it has a huge impact, and for others little to no impact."
The comments underline how the bunker industry is inevitably heading towards a fragmented market in the coming decades, with different low- or zero-carbon options being suitable for different shipping segments.
This will also be particularly noticeable for battery power, which has the potential to deliver significant savings in fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions for passenger vessels and short-sea shipping, but is unlikely in its present iteration to be of much use to large ocean-going ships.
"[Space concerns] will have a huge impact," Jakob Steffersen, head of innovation and partnerships at DFDS, said on the webinar.
"The winning thing will definitely be, which is the most cost-efficient?"