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Shell’s maiden trial for hydrogen fuel cell in ships to aid Singapore’s clean fuel ambitions

Shell’s maiden trial for hydrogen fuel cell in ships to aid Singapore’s clean fuel ambitions


  • Shell, SembCorp Marine Ltd, LMG Marin AS, Penguin International to collaborate on the project
  • Trial to develop, install auxiliary power unit PEM fuel cell on existing roll-on/roll-off vessel
  • Initiative part of Shell Singapore’s plan to cut its CO2 emissions by about a third within a decade.

Singapore — Shell said April 21 it would collaborate on a feasibility study to trial the use of hydrogen fuel cells for ships, the first of its kind for both Shell and in Singapore, paving the way for cleaner and hydrogen-powered shipping.

“This trial is an important step in demonstrating the applicability of hydrogen and fuel cells on ships,” the statement quoted Nick Potter, general manager of Shell Shipping and Maritime, Asia Pacific & Middle East, as saying.

“We see fuel cells and hydrogen as a promising pathway for decarbonizing shipping and working with partners in this way will develop our understanding of this critical technology,” he added.

Shell, the charterer of the trial vessel and the hydrogen fuel provider, is working with SembCorp Marine Ltd and its wholly-owned subsidiary LMG Marin AS, who will design the fuel cell and retrofit the vessel, as well as Penguin International, who owns the roll-on/roll-off vessel.

The trial will develop and install an auxiliary power unit Proton Exchange Membrane or PEM fuel cell on an existing roll-on/roll-off (RoRo) vessel that transports goods between the mainland and Shell’s Pulau Bukom manufacturing site.

The team will first carry out a feasibility study with the aim of installing the fuel cell next year. The vessel will operate for a trial period of 12 months, the statement added.

“Hydrogen fuel cells have the potential to revolutionize shipping and transportation, enabling the industry to become greener with the ambition to achieve the 2050 target set by the International Maritime Organization to reduce total greenhouse gas emissions from international shipping by at least 50%,” said Sembcorp Marine President and CEO Wong Weng Sun.

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore or MPA said it also welcomed the initiative of trialing the applicability of this new technology within the Port of Singapore.

In November 2020, Shell Singapore outlined a 10-year plan for how the company could make significant investments in people, assets and capabilities to repurpose its core business and aim to cut its own CO2 emissions in the country by about a third within a decade.

Shell has also announced it will be joining a consortium to develop an LNG fuel cell trial on a commercial deepsea vessel, with partners from across the value chain, to demonstrate the maritime suitability of fuel cells and develop the technology for use with future fuels.

Singapore’s hydrogen initiatives

Singapore has undertaken a series of hydrogen-based initiatives in an effort to find ways to embrace the clean fuel in its energy mix.

In 2020, five Singaporean and two Japanese companies signed an agreement to study how hydrogen as a low-carbon alternative can contribute to a clean and sustainable energy future for Singapore.

Under the agreement, PSA Corp. Ltd., Jurong Port Pte. Ltd., City Gas Pte. Ltd., Sembcorp Industries, Singapore LNG Corp. Pte. Ltd., Chiyoda Corp. and Mitsubishi Corp. will develop ways to utilize hydrogen as a green energy source.

In addition, Singapore is stepping up efforts to explore the prospects for hydrogen in data centers as it prepares for a carbon-free digitalized economy, a move that could expand the scope of the clean fuel beyond some of the main focus sectors like transportation.

Keppel Data Centres and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries last year signed an agreement to jointly explore the implementation of a hydrogen-powered trigeneration plant concept for data centers in Singapore through the Steam Methane Reforming process. By incorporating carbon capture and storage capabilities, both parties will seek to ensure that the process is carbon neutral.

The companies said they will study how a hydrogen-powered trigeneration plant-supported data center can meet the expanding needs of the digital economy in a safe, reliable and environmentally-friendly manner.


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