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Hydrogen and Wind-Assisted Propulsion the Focus of New European Maritime Safety Agency Reports

5th December 2023
The potential of wind-assisted propulsion for shipping is analysed in a new report released by the European Maritime Safety Agency
The potential of wind-assisted propulsion for shipping is analysed in a new report released by the European Maritime Safety Agency

The potential of wind assisted propulsion systems as a power source in the shipping sector is analysed in a new report released by the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA).

“Even though the total number of ships equipped with wind assisted propulsion systems is still at a comparatively low level, there is a perceptible increase in the number of ships that have installed or are planning to install these systems,” it says.

The report, the latest publication in a series on alternative fuel commissioned by EMSA, examines the state of play of the various wind-assisted propulsion systems developed for the maritime industry, including availability, risks and safety, techno-economic aspects, and the relevant regulatory frameworks.

Under the European Green Deal, the EU has pledged to become climate neutral by 2050, with an intermediate goal of a 55% reduction of greenhouse emissions by 2030.

Maritime transport, which has traditionally relied on the use of conventional fossil fuels, is preparing for a transformation to meet EU and international climate targets.

This has led to an increased focus on low-sulphur or -emission technologies, alternative or low-carbon fuels and other sustainable fuel and energy-efficient technologies, EMSA says.

A second report on potential of hydrogen as a fuel for shipping notes there is sufficient land-based experience with its production and use to serve as a “sound basis” for a transition to a marine fuel.

“The maritime industry faces substantive challenges, many of which are driven by increasingly stricter air emissions and climate legislation as its practitioners navigate a course towards decarbonisation,”EMSA notes.

“Among the broad spectrum of technologies and fuel solutions being considered, hydrogen that is produced with renewable energy (green hydrogen) has been identified as a fuel that could offer a ‘near-zero’ carbon solution on a well-to-wake basis,” it says.

“There are some barriers, such as hydrogen’s low energy density (which would increase the storage needs onboard a ship), the cost of the equipment and significant need to expand the global capacity to distribute and produce green hydrogen,” EMSA says.

“In the end, hydrogen-fuelled vessels may prove to be a more appropriate solution for short-sea shipping rather than deep-sea,” it notes.

“By examining the current production capacity for hydrogen, the existing regulatory landscape, fuel storage options, supply and power generation technologies – along with techno-economic analyses and risk-based case studies – this study has identified the potential for adopting hydrogen as a marine fuel,” it says.

An earlier report released by EMSA suggested that biofuels could replace conventional fossil fuels without substantial engine modification.

Maritime transport produces 13.5% of all greenhouse gas emissions from transport in the EU, according to the European Maritime Transport Environmental Report, issued by EMSA and the European Environment Agency,

In 2020, ships of more than 5,000 GT calling at EU and EEA ports emitted 126 million tonnes of CO2, according to an EMSA database.

Published in Ports & Shipping Team

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