This is the second article in a series that will explore the use of hydrogen as transport fuel. The series will focus on uses cases in:
The shipping industry emits over 3% of all greenhouse gas emissions. This includes over 30% of the world’s NOx emissions and over 10% of the world’s of the world’s SOx emissions. The largest ships in the sea almost exclusively run on fossil fuels (the exception being a few large military vessels using nuclear energy for propulsion). The decarbonisation of the shipping industry would represent a large and meaningful contribution to reaching the targets laid out in the Paris Agreement.
Batteries are largely unsuitable for powering large ships due to their size and weight, which would severely limit the amount of cargo a ship can carry.
Hydrogen is being heralded as the leading candidate for the decarbonisation of shipping. Groups such as ABB are developing fuel cells for large ships. CMB, from Belgium, have been operating a hydrogen powered passenger shuttle since 2017, and are bringing larger vessels to market.
Ports have an important role to play too, especially in terms of providing the necessary refuelling infrastructure. Felixstowe in the UK is looking to develop green (and pink) hydrogen production assets due to its proximity to offshore wind farms and nuclear generation. Royal Dutch Shell are particularly bullish on producing hydrogen for use a shipping fuel, and that has been clearly evidenced by their role in the Port of Rotterdam project.
Moreover, shipping fuel needs to be cheap to be competitive. Presently green hydrogen is around five times the cost of very low sulphur fuel oil on a per unit energy basis. This price will fall as green hydrogen production scales.
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