AIDA Cruises Plans Fleet Electrification


Published Aug 26, 2019 6:32 PM by The Maritime Executive

AIDA Cruises has signed an agreement with Corvus Energy for the installation of lithium-ion battery storage systems on board the AIDA Cruises fleet, with the electrification of the first AIDA ship in 2020. 

The pilot program in electrification will test the use of stored battery power for emission-free ship operation for an extended period as well as for meeting onboard energy needs. It will be the first launch of the technology on a large cruise ship. Following the pilot electrification program on board an AIDA vessel, Carnival Corporation plans to extend the program to Costa Cruises.

In December 2018, AIDA Cruises made history with the introduction of the world's first cruise ship capable of being powered in port and at sea by LNG. Carnival has 10 "green" cruise ships on order, including Costa Smeralda, which will be the second of the corporation's ships to be powered by LNG when it joins the Costa Cruises fleet in October.

Since 2000, every ship built for AIDA Cruises has "cold ironing" or shore power capabilities, which allow for connecting directly into the land-based electrical grid while in port where the infrastructure is available. By the end of 2020, 12 of AIDA's 14 ships will be able to use shore power where available.

In addition, AIDA is exploring the use of CO2-free production of liquefied gas from renewable sources through its "Power to Gas" project. The brand also plans to test its first onboard fuel cell in 2021, in cooperation with the Meyer Werft shipyard and other partners. By the end of 2023, 94 percent of all AIDA guests will travel on ships that can be fully powered by LNG or shore power where possible.

Environmental organization Stand.earth has applauded the announcement of the battery project. For the past several years, Stand.earth and the Clean Up Carnival coalition have been calling for Carnival to transition away from the use of heavy fuel oil and move to zero-emission technologies, including hydrogen fuel cells and battery power from renewable sources.

Kendra Ulrich, Senior Shipping Campaigner at Stand.earth, said: “It is extremely encouraging that the largest cruise company in the world is finally exploring technologies that do not rely on fossil fuels or utilize false solutions like LNG or open-loop scrubbers. For years, environmental groups have been calling for the cruise industry to transition to hydrogen fuel cells and battery power from renewable sources — the only viable solutions for the cruise sector to adequately address its growing climate and human health-harming pollution.

“The global shipping industry is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than major industrial nations such as Germany and Canada, and the cruise sector — which has grown by more than six percent annually from 1990-2020 with a projected 30 million passengers cruising in 2019 — has an important role to play as a leader in technological innovation. This is a major step forward into that leadership role.”

Earlier this month in an interview with PBS News Hour, Tom Boardley, the secretary general in Europe for Cruise Lines International Association, said the cruise industry needs to move to “hydrogen … or some other solution.” Stand.earth says that transitioning cruise ships to LNG has been an increasingly popular “climate solution” — but relying upon LNG for ship fuel results in significant unintentional methane releases throughout the supply chain. “Methane (the primary component of LNG) is a greenhouse gas approximately 86 times more potent than CO2 over a 20 year period — the timeframe when the world needs to rapidly reduce climate-warming emissions — and is 34 times more potent than CO2 over a 100-year period.”