The maritime sector discovers the fuel cell

Aqua
Concept for the Aqua Luxury Yacht, © Sinot

While hydrogen in the maritime sector has only ever been treated as an option for the future under “far away” for years, not only the events at which this energy source is the subject of lively debate are currently on the increase, but also the reports on concrete projects. More and more shipping companies are turning to hydrogen because the pressure to say goodbye to fossil solutions is growing from all sides.

Although most players in the maritime industry are probably aware that large tankers and cruise ships will not be using hydrogen tomorrow, the discussion about sustainable propulsion systems has now reached a new dimension. Even though many shipping companies are currently initially focusing on liquefied natural gas (LNG), the industry is already characterised by the attitude that LNG will be “only a transitional technology” in maritime transport.

It was not without reason that Dr. Andreas Schröter, Managing Director of DNV GL Energy, explained in October 2019 in Berlin: “We live in times of disruptive change. We have crossed a tipping point and believe that hydrogen has a huge potential.” Shortly before, the Hamburg-based consultancy service provider to the maritime industry had presented the DNV GL Energy Transition Outlook 2019 – a study which concludes that “more than ten times as much solar energy and five times as much wind power than today, as well as further technological measures” will be required for the energy turnaround. “This is the only way to limit global warming to well below 2°C and to achieve the Paris Climate Agreement,” the paper says.

One of the resulting measures recommended by DNV GL is “Green Hydrogen for heating buildings and industrial plants and for transporting fuels, as well as using surplus renewable energy in the power grid.” It should be noted that the Norwegian classification society (2013 merger of Det Norske Veritas and Germanischer Lloyd) has so far been primarily active in the gas and oil business, but is now acting as a supporter of sustainable mobility solutions.

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