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MSC signs deal to explore feasibility of building hydrogen-powered cruise ship

MSC Cruises looking at hydrogen-powered ship

The cruise division of MSC Group has signed an agreement with shipbuilder Fincantieri, and Snam – an energy infrastructure operator – to carry out a study that will assess the feasibility of designing and building the world’s first ocean-going hydrogen-powered cruise ship.

Over the coming 12 months the three companies will look at “key factors related to the development” of such a vessel, including the need to arrange ship spaces to accommodate hydrogen technologies and fuel cells.

The study will also consider the “technical parameters of on-board systems, calculating the potential greenhouse gas emissions savings, and a technical and economic analysis of hydrogen supply and infrastructure”.

Green hydrogen can be produced without fossil fuels, using renewable energy to split water in a process called electrolysis and can therefore be emissions-free on a full lifecycle basis. It can be used to generate electrical power through a fuel cell, emitting only water vapour and heat.

“This type of ‘green’ hydrogen holds great potential to contribute to the decarbonisation of the shipping industry, including cruising, whether in its pure form or as a hydrogen-derived fuel,” MSC said.

The news comes just days after MSC Cruises released its 2020 sustainability report, showing that the line is on track to meet a target for a “40 per cent improvement in emissions intensity by 2030 compared to 2008”.

MSC Group cruise division executive chairman Pierfrancesco Vago said: “As a company that has long made environmental sustainability its focus, we want to put ourselves at the forefront of the energy revolution for our sector and hydrogen can greatly contribute to this.

“However, today production levels remain low and hydrogen fuel is still far from being available at scale. With this project, we’re taking the lead to bring this promising technology to our fleet and the industry while sending the strongest possible signal to the market about how seriously we take our environmental commitments.

“As we advance with the development of the maritime technology required, we will also see that energy providers take note and ramp up production to unlock this, and that governments and the public sector step in to provide the necessary support for a project that is critical to the decarbonisation of cruising and shipping.”

Fincantieri CEO Giuseppe Bono added: “Every opportunity for new solutions and technologies is a source of growth for us. This one allows us to offer our customers the best of innovation to help minimise the environmental impact”.

Snam CEO Marco Alverà said: “Hydrogen could be a key enabler in achieving the target of net zero emissions in shipping, accounting for approximately three per cent of global CO2 emissions, as well as in all the hard to abate sectors.”

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