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Wednesday, July 28, 2021 

Cruise operator MSC, Italian state shipbuilder Fincantieri and gas group Snam are jointly investigating the feasibility of building the world's first hydrogen-powered cruise ship.

The three companies will look at a series of logistical and technological issues over the next 12 months to assess whether to proceed with the project, they said in a joint statement. The aim is to promote the use of hydrogen in shipping to reduce emissions while attracting the investment needed to scale up the business, and developing the related hydrogen bunkering infrastructure.

According to Fincantieri, green hydrogen can be produced without fossil fuels, using renewable energy to split water by electrolysis and can therefore be emissions-free on a full lifecycle basis. It can be used to generate electrical power through a fuel cell, emitting only water vapour and heat. This type of ‘green’ hydrogen holds great potential to contribute to the decarbonisation of the shipping industry, including cruising, whether in its pure form or as a hydrogen-derived fuel.

"We want to be on the front line of the energy revolution in our sector and hydrogen can greatly help in this direction," said Pierfrancesco Vago, executive chairman, MSC cruise division.

Giuseppe Bono, Fincantieri CEO said: "Every opportunity for new solutions and technologies is a source of growth for us. This one allows us to offer our customers the best of innovation to help minimize the environmental impact."

With Europe expected to introduce duty on high-carbon shipping fuel that has not been taxed previously, and the IMO having set ambitious climate goals, hydrogen is viewed as having an important role to play in reducing emissions in heavy transport sectors that are difficult to electrify, though costs will first need to fall.

"Maritime transport today accounts for some 3% of CO2 emissions worldwide, the use of hydrogen can help achieve net-zero emission targets," said Snam CEO Marco Alvera.

Snam, which derives most of its revenue from gas transport in Italy, has pledged to spend more on new green business lines such as hydrogen to help to position the company for the transition to cleaner energy.

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