First fuel cell-equipped commercial vessel on show

31 Dec 2009

Eidesvik's Viking Lady, first commercial ship with a fuel cell

The Viking Lady was in Copenhagen to demonstrate low-emissions shipping to world leaders – and The Motorship

The Copenhagen Climate Change summit may have been inconclusive, but the city contained at least one example of how shipping is taking positive steps to clean up its act and reinforce its position as the most energy-efficient means of cargo transportation.

The Viking Lady, arguably the most environmentally-friendly ship afloat, was on hand to demonstrate some of the possibilities for the future. The demonstrations were hosted by the three of the main participants in Norway’s FellowShip project, class society Det Norske Veritas, systems integrator Wärtsilä, and shipowner Eidesvik.

The event was used by DNV to present a study, depicting how the shipping industry, by 2030, could cut emissions by 30%. The good news, according to DNV Maritime COO Tor Svensen, is that the scenario implies a zero-cost for the industry.

The study, a follow-up of the abatement curve launched by DNV during Norshipping in June depicting the reduction potential of the existing world fleet, looks at the reduction potential of both the existing fleet and newbuildings.

“What we have here is a model that looks at the potential of a range of reduction measures; from more efficient voyage execution to speed reduction and the employment of fuel cells on board the ships. The results are quite encouraging; if the shipping industry starts acting now and applies the available cost-efficient technologies, emissions can be reduced considerably. Without additional costs incurred. By doing this we can go a long way in meeting some of the tough requirements already set. Also those currently being debated in Copenhagen,” says Svensen.

The study looks at ships from all market segments, both from the existing fleet and newbuildings projected to be built in the years to come. The results show that shipping, compared to a projected baseline (where no measures are applied) of 1,530 million tons of CO2, could cut emissions by 30% by 2030 at zero cost . This equals a reduction in emissions of 500 million tons of CO2. The study also shows that the emission reduction potential would increase to 50% if all identified measures costing up to $100/tonne CO2 were implemented.

The study suggests that where emission reduction and sound economic rationale pull in the same direction, widespread implementation of cost-effective measures will come over time. Accoding to Svensen, enforcement through regulatory means could, however, be necessary where the economic pull is weaker. “While there is no silver bullet which could make it all happen, the aggregated effect of all measures are significant and will ensure an industry that operates in a more energy efficient manner and also takes its share of the common responsibility of reducing carbon emissions,” he says.

Viking Lady took time out to dock in Central Copenhagen during COP15 from her regular operations as an offshore supply vessel in the North Sea. During her visit, the ship took a group of mayors from major cities on a tour to see environmental solutions that have reduced Copenhagen’s CO2 footprint.

“The Viking Lady is living proof that the technology required for more environmentally sustainable sea transport is already available, if we are willing to put it to use. While emissions from international sea transport may be a matter of global regulation, shipping is also a matter of local concern, especially with regards to air quality around large coastal cities worldwide. By operating on clean energy while at dock, the Viking Lady contributes towards cleaner air and improved public health, and also helps curb emissions that cause global warming,” said Per Wiggo Richardsen from FellowShip, the R&D joint industry project behind Viking Lady.

The Viking Lady is the first commercial ship with a fuel cell specially adapted for marine use. The fuel cell, developed by the fourth FellowShip partner MTU Onsite Energy, enables the ship to generate energy more efficiently and reduces emissions to air. Compared to a traditional ship, the Viking Lady has reduced NOx emissions by 180 tonnes, or equivalent to the amount emitted by 22 000 cars in one year. SOx emissions are eliminated entirely and CO2 emissions are reduced by 20%. Unlike a combustion engine, a fuel cell has few moving parts and hence operates much more quietly.

These combined advantages are claimed to be especially significant for a ship with frequent stops in busy harbours. Not only are greenhouse gas emissions curbed; harmful local emissions and noise are also reduced, providing a healthier environment for people in the cities surrounding the harbours, as well as for harbour employees and the ship’s crew.

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