After more than ten years of development work, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has passed safety regulations for the approval of ships with fuel cell propulsion, which will come into force in May 2022 with the approval of the Maritime Safety Committee.
With the “Guidelines for the safety of ships using fuel cell power installations” the framework conditions are set for a broad application in commercial shipping in order to be able to realize emission-free ships with efficient energy converters and climate-neutral fuels and to ensure a successful market ramp-up of fuel cell systems in the maritime sector enable.
In Germany, innovative energy supply systems are being developed in the joint research project “e4ships – fuel cells in maritime use” as part of the National Innovation Program for Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology (NIP) and the research results and regulatory proposals obtained there are incorporated directly into the development of IMO regulations. This intensive industrial participation in the development of safety standards provides important impulses for establishing innovative fuel cell systems on an industrial scale in shipping and for expanding the range of fuels suitable for fuel cells. The “AIDAnova” is to be retrofitted this year and will then be the world’s first large cruise ship to be operated with fuel cells for hotel operations.
Kurt-Christoph von Knobelsdorff, Managing Director of NOW GmbH: “After more than 10 years of work, there is now a fuel cell set of rules for the IMO. This means that the market ramp-up for clean fuel cell technology can now also begin in the shipping sector. As soon as the safety regulations come into force, fuel cells can be used on seagoing ships. This great success is also due to the long-term research and development funding in the National Innovation Program for Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology (NIP) of the Federal Ministry of Transport. ”
“This is a milestone for more energy-efficient ships and alternative energy sources,” explains Dr. Ralf Sören Marquardt, Managing Director of the Association for Shipbuilding and Marine Technology eV (VSM) and IMO representative of the European Shipbuilding Association. “The IMO decision was made just in time to put the market-ready innovations from European shipyards and plant manufacturers into practical use. This enables competitive advantages and makes maritime contributions to climate protection and the energy transition. ”
About e4ships – fuel cells in maritime use
As part of the joint project e4ships, concepts for converting ships to climate and environmentally friendly systems for energy supply and ship propulsion with fuel cells are being developed and tested in operation. The work concentrates on the on-board power supply of cruise and special ships with alternative fuels as well as on (hybrid) drives for river cruise ships, ferries and other types of ships for inland vessels. The fuels used are hydrogen, low-sulfur diesel, LNG or methanol, depending on the type of fuel cell or the available infrastructure. In addition to technical development work, questions of economic efficiency, safety standards, the market launch strategy and climate protection effects are also clarified.