Shell to trial hydrogen fuel cells for shipping
Shell is working on a feasibility study with partners for the trial use of hydrogen fuel cells for ships in Singapore, marking the first time it has taken part in such a project, the company said on April 21.
Shell is chartering the trial vessel and will provide the hydrogen fuel, while Singapore's Sembcorp and its subsidiary LMG Marin will design the fuel cell and retrofit the vessel. Singapore-based shipping firm Penguin International is the owner of the roll-on/roll-off vessel, which transports goods, vehicles and equipment on trucks between Singapore and Shell's Pulau Bukom manufacturing site on a nearby island.
The goal is to install the fuel cell next year, after which the vessel will operate for a 12-month trial period.
"We see fuel cells and hydrogen as a promising pathway for decarbonising shipping and working with partners in this way will develop our understanding of this critical technology," Nick Potter, Shell's general manager for shipping and maritime in the Asia Pacific and Middle East regions, commented.
Penguin's managing director James Tham added that hydrogen was "a new frontier in alternative fuels for shipping."
"This trial is significant for Singapore and for the maritime community at large," he said. "The outcome of this trial, which is based on retrofitting a RoRo which we operate for Shell, could quickly bring many shipowners to the forefront of this alternative fuel."
The World Bank concluded in a recent report that hydrogen and ammonia were the most promising zero-carbon fuels on the market. Singapore has also emerged as a key hub for LNG bunkering, although the bank forecast that LNG would play only a limited role in decarbonisation – a conclusion that the LNG bunkering industry has disputed.
Shell's own research points to biofuels and LNG, and later hydrogen and fuel cells, as the best means of decarbonising shipping. It is generally dismissive of methanol, electric batteries and nuclear power as options.