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SMW 2021: Shell and Sembcorp Marine to trial hydrogen fuel cell with RoRo vessel retrofit

21 Apr 2021

Shell on Wednesday (21 April) said it will collaborate on a feasibility study to trial the use of hydrogen fuel cells for ships, the first of its kind for Shell and in Singapore.

If successful, the trial would help pave the way to cleaner, hydrogen-powered shipping. Shell’s analysis points to hydrogen with fuel cells as the zero emissions technology which has the greatest potential to help the shipping sector achieve net zero emissions by 2050.

“This trial is an important step in demonstrating the applicability of hydrogen and fuel cells on ships,” said Nick Potter, General Manager of Shell Shipping and Maritime, Asia Pacific & Middle East.

“We see fuel cells and hydrogen as a promising pathway to decarbonising shipping and working with partners in this way will develop our understanding of this critical technology.

“This trial is a testament to the thriving sector ecosystem in Singapore that makes this possible. It is also part of our ambition to help accelerate progress towards NetZero emissions in the shipping sector, an important pillar of the Singapore economy.”

Shell, the charterer of the trial vessel and the hydrogen fuel provider, is working with SembCorp Marine Ltd and its wholly owned subsidiary LMG Marin AS, who will design the fuel cell and retrofit the vessel, as well as Penguin International, who owns the roll-on/roll-off vessel.

The trial will develop and install an auxiliary power unit Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) fuel cell on an existing roll on/roll-off (RoRo) vessel that transports goods, vehicles and equipment on lorries between the mainland and Shell’s Pulau Bukom Manufacturing Site.

The team will first carry out a feasibility study with the intention to install the fuel cell next year. The vessel will operate for a trial period of 12 months and customers and partners will be welcomed to participate.

“Sembcorp Marine is delighted to partner Shell on this project. Hydrogen fuel cells have the potential to revolutionise shipping and transportation, enabling the industry to become greener with the ambition to achieve the 2050 target set by the International Maritime Organization to reduce total greenhouse gas emissions from international shipping by at least 50 per cent,” added Wong Weng Sun, Sembcorp Marine President and CEO.

“Hydrogen is generally regarded as a new frontier in alternative fuels for shipping,” noted James Tham, Managing Director of Penguin.

“This trial is significant for Singapore and for the maritime community at large. The outcome of this trial, which is based on retrofitting a RoRo which we operate for Shell, could quickly bring many ship owners to the forefront of this alternative fuel. As a Singaporean shipbuilder, owner and operator, we believe in playing an active part in decarbonisation.”

“The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) welcomes this initiative on the use of hydrogen fuel cells as a cleaner source of energy,” commented Quah Ley Hoon, Chief Executive, MPA.

“We appreciate the confidence the companies have placed on Singapore in trialing the applicability of this new technology within the Port of Singapore. This project, together with the other joint industry projects, complements efforts in Singapore to come up with commercially viable solutions to decarbonise the industry.”

In November 2020, Shell Singapore outlined a 10-year plan for how the company could make significant investments in people, assets and capabilities to repurpose its core business and aim to cut its own CO2 emissions in the country by about a third within a decade.

Shell noted it has also set out its target to be a net-zero emissions energy business by 2050, in step with society and with customers.

Shell has also announced it will be joining a consortium to develop an LNG fuel cell trial on a commercial deep-sea vessel, with partners from across the value chain, to demonstrate the maritime suitability of fuel cells and develop the technology for use with future fuels.

Photo credit: Manifold Times
Published: 21 April, 2021

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