The rules governing shipping emissions are now stricter than ever. At the same time, shipping companies are becoming greener and their passengers more environmentally aware. For maritime and inland shipping, the dawn of this new era is full of challenges. In Annex VI of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL), the UN's International Maritime Organization (IMO), which is responsible for regulating international shipping, stated that, as of 2020, the percentage of sulphur in fuels is to be reduced to 0.5%. In special Sulphur Emission Control Areas (SECAs), such as the North and Baltic Sea and the North America area, the fuel sulphur limit for passing ships is now just 0.1%.
e4ships2 cluster management aims to prepare the ground by creating the regulatory policies and conditions needed for the unrestricted use of climate-friendly fuel cell systems on board seagoing and inland vessels, thus generating access to an eco-friendly alternative to conventional aggregates. It further aims to help disseminate information on this next-generation technology.
To harness this technology across the board for the benefit of the earth’s climate and economic growth in Germany, and to enable its usage in German, European and international waters, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the European agencies concerned (ZKR/CESNI) need to align their guidelines. In addition to the technological demands on ships and their energy supply, the onshore bunkering of low flashpoint fuels, such as hydrogen, methanol, LNG and synthetic diesel, is also a major issue. This not only applies to technical safety but to licensing and standardisation.
Work in this sector concerns high-temperature PEM and SOFC technologies for onboard power generation on cruise liners and special vessels as well as (hybrid) powertrains for river cruise ships, ferries and other vessels. It also comprises the use of low-temperature fuel cells (LT PEM) on inland vessels and the licensing of alternative fuels for inland waterway and maritime shipping.
Depending on the fuel cell type or the given infrastructure, the fuels used include hydrogen, low-sulphur diesel, LNG or methanol. In addition to technical development work, there is also a focus on matters such as economic efficiency, safety standards, the go-to-market strategy and climate protection.
Regular project meetings provide a platform on which project partners can share their expertise. Their joint communications heighten the visibility of the e4ships2 project in the sector, at the political level and also amongst the public at large.