- The container ship market is preparing for the entry of hydrogen as a serious fuel contender, with several new initiatives helping it to gain traction.
- A first step for the use of hydrogen in this sector is the conversion of Future Proof Shipping’s Maas container feeder vessel.
- Following this example, there have been a flurry of new initiatives that will help prepare box shipping for the entrance of hydrogen.
A recent news article published in the Riviera states that box shipping is ready for hydrogen.
Developing hydrogen fuel cells
This was shown in Riviera Maritime Media’s Developing hydrogen fuel cells for container ships webinar, part of Container Ship Tech & Ops Webinar Week.
Several examples were given in the webinar about the move to hydrogen. LMG Marin France hydrogen system engineer Martin Camus showed how LMG Marin is part of a consortium working on Energy Observer 2, a zero-emissions cargo vessel with capacity of 240 TEU, which is planned for shortsea shipping and requires a scale-up for hydrogen.
But it is not just the shortsea feeder sector that hydrogen could be a contender for. A study into the transpacific trade leg indicates hydrogen could be used for the big box ships in this lane.
What port needs to do?
ICCT’s study into this tradelane unveiled in the webinar shows what ports need to do to prepare for hydrogen use. The study concluded that the Aleutian Islands of Alaska were strategically important for hydrogen refuelling, allowing for 171 additional voyages.
The poll questions answered by delegates in Riviera’s webinar on hydrogen for box ships also reveal some useful insights for the deployment of this fuel. Asked: How likely is hydrogen to be used as fuel for shortsea and worldwide navigation vessels? An encouraging 40% said likely while 13% answered very likely.
The attendees were also asked: Knowledge and mastery of LNG-powered vessels will facilitate the integration and operation of hydrogen fuel-cell-powered vessels.
The majority, 77%, agreed. This is extremely encouraging, given the increasing and strong use of LNG within the container ship sector.
In our newbuilding and orderbook feature in CST this month, we highlight this strong drive: DNV’s Alternative Fuel Insight platform shows there are currently 130 LNG-fuelled container ships on order and 34 in operation. Of all the shipping sectors, the container ship sector has the most LNG-fuelled ships on order.
Challenges in using Hydrogen
Of course, there are challenges to the use of hydrogen, and these are well known and not just relevant for the container sector, spanning hydrogen availability, rules and regulations and technology maturity. But there have been many inroads into tackling these challenges. One of the most recent steps is that made by DNV and MAN Energy Solutions, who have inked a memorandum of understanding to co-operate on areas including the hydrogen value chain. The organisations will detail their action plans within these fields on 30 June 2022.
To overcome challenges, collaboration is needed. And this is happening, as we can see by not only DNV and MAN Energy Solutions, but specifically in the box ship sector, for example Future Proof Shipping has joined the consortium FLAGSHIPS to bring the shipping company’s second green hydrogen-powered inland container vessel, FPS Waal, to Europe’s waterways.
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