With maritime transports emitting millions tons of CO2  annually, there is an increased pressure for the shipping industry to deploy means of reducing harmful pollutants. Marine shipping is also well-known for its significant high CO2 emission due the traditional low grade “bunker fuel” used in ships engines, which generate high emissions.

With so many different types of vessels on the water, the marine industry needs a true zero-emission solution that can be applied across different vessel types. Batteries are a zero-emission power solution for smaller vessels that operate with short duty cycles, for example, small passenger and service boats. However, lower power density and greater weight limit the usage of batteries for many applications.  

For marine vessels, fuel cells are a viable, true zero-emission option. Just like batteries, fuel cells produce electricity with high efficiency through an electro-chemical process. The difference is, with a fuel cell, energy is stored separately in the form of hydrogen fuel. As long as fuel is available, the fuel cell power systems will produce electricity as a generator. The only emissions from a fuel cell are water vapour and heat. Additionally, hydrogen fuel can be produced from renewable sources, including solar, wind, hydroelectric, and geothermal energy. Fuelled by renewable hydrogen, a fuel cell power system is therefore a true zero-emission power source.



Hydrogen fuel cells have proven their performance in a variety of applications, including buses, trucks, cars, forklifts and even passenger trains. Thanks to their success in heavy-duty land vehicles, fuel cells are now being integrated into marine vessels and will play a key role in helping marine industries address greenhouse gas emissions on the water and in ports. New proton exchange membrane fuel cells are also modular in order to provide the power and redundancy needed by a vessel, from 100kW to 1MW or more. They can be deployed in parallel, dispatchable configurations to meet the variable power requirements of hybrid electric propulsion, and auxiliary power systems.


- ”Hydrogen is a practical, viable zero-emissions energy solution for marine vessels in Tanganyika and fuel cells are a deliverable propulsion solution for mid-sized vessels carrying more than 100 passengers or the equivalent freight volumes”, says Janvier Nsengiumva, Commercial chief Port of Bujumbura and board member of Power One AB.


In a fuel cell system, the power generation and fuel storage elements are separate, which offers the ship architect more flexibility than batteries. For additional efficiencies, surplus heat generated by the fuel cells could be used to heat water for HVAC, laundry and other purposes. The pure water that is produced by the fuel cell can also be recovered if needed.

Powered by renewable hydrogen, fuel cell systems are the most practical, viable zero-emission solution. Implementing this technology is a critical step in reducing emissions from marine vessels and cleaning up the air for a more liveable world.


- Lake Tanganyika is still clean and clear, it is a treasure of biodiversity and we want to keep it that way. For this reason, Power One is assessing the operational impact of the switch to hydrogen as a fuel for Lake Tanganyika”, says Peter Rinaldo, CEO Power One and Blockhomes Burundi.



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