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Fincantieri, MSC, and Snam to Develop Hydrogen-Powered Cruise Ship

developing world's first hydrogen cruise ship
MSC cruise ship under construction at Fincantieri (MSC Cruises file photo)

Published Jul 26, 2021 4:59 PM by The Maritime Executive

Fincantieri is joining with one of its customers, the cruise division of MSC Group, and European gas and energy infrastructure company Snam to explore the potential for possibly the world’s first hydrogen-powered cruise ship. The companies said that they believe green hydrogen holds great potential to contribute to the decarbonization of the shipping industry, including cruising, whether in its pure form or as a hydrogen-derived fuel and they would seek to define the steps required for the adoption of the fuel.

“Today production levels remain low and hydrogen fuel is still far from being available at scale,” said Pierfrancesco Vago, Executive Chairman of the Cruise Division of MSC Group. “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.”

During the next 12 months, the three companies will study key factors related to the development of ocean-going hydrogen-powered cruise ships. This includes arranging ship spaces to accommodate H2 technologies and fuel cells, technical parameters of onboard systems, calculating the potential greenhouse gas emissions savings, and a technical and economic analysis of hydrogen supply and infrastructure. The aim is to bring attention to the need for the take up of hydrogen fuel in shipping to achieve decarbonization and attract public and private investments to make this possible at scale.

“Hydrogen could be a key enabler in achieving the target of net-zero emissions in shipping, accounting for approximately 3 percent of global CO2 emissions, as well as in all the hard to abate sectors,” said Marco Alverà, Snam’s CEO. “This agreement is part of a wider strategy to leverage on our experience, competencies, and technologies in green gases and energy efficiency in order to contribute to the full decarbonization of the shipping value chain, including ports and logistics, which will be increasingly crucial in our economies.”

Initially, the companies plan to carry out a study that will assess the feasibility of designing and building the world’s first ocean-going cruise ship powered by hydrogen. They also plan to explore the development of the related hydrogen bunkering infrastructure.

The Cruise Division of MSC Group said that as a company it is committed to achieving net carbon neutral operations by 2050. To accomplish this objective, the company is working in partnership with a wide range of shipyards, suppliers, manufacturers, and other organizations as well as investing in different upcoming technologies and solutions for its fleet.

In addition to having its first LNG-fueled cruise ship now under construction, MSC at the beginning of this year announced its participation in another hydrogen fuel project. The program, which is receiving funding from the EU Horizon 2020 program to accelerate innovation, including tests on a hydrogen-powered ship engine on a cruise ship.