Scandinavian ferry will be one of the world’s biggest hydrogen-powered ships. Is it a model for the future of the shipping industry?
Every week, the DFDS ferry shuttles the 480km between Copenhagen and Oslo, burning 35 tons of oil on its two-day journey, spewing filthy emissions.But this is slowly changing. By 2027, the Danish shipping firm hopes a new ship, the Europa Seaways, will run that route powered by compressed hydrogen and emitting only clean water in its wake.
The marine industry is one of the dirty secrets of climate change as marine transport emits 940 million tonnes of CO2 annually and is responsible for 2.5 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, thanks to the dirty fossil fuel burned for propulsion. "If international shipping was a country, it would be the fifth or sixth highest in the world [for greenhouse gases], between Germany and Japan," says Simon Bullock, a researcher at the University of Manchester's Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research.
In response, the EU is calling for zero-carbon ships by 2030. Alongside that, the government of Denmark passed a law committing the country to slash carbon emissions 70 percent by 2030, requiring different industries to come up with ideas to make that happen. Both decarbonisation efforts give the marine industry a deadline but also make funding available, and that's one reason why DFDS is working on the Europa Seaways project now.
A survey by Lloyd's Register suggests that mandatory regulation and financial incentives are the top two reasons why shipping companies accelerate their decarbonisation, with industry body the International Maritime Organization pushing to slash shipping emissions by at least 50 percent by 2050.
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