Sembcorp Marine, Penguin International partner Shell in trial of hydrogen fuel cells for ships

Sembcorp Marine and its wholly-owned subsidiary LMG Marin AS will design the fuel cell.
Sembcorp Marine and its wholly-owned subsidiary LMG Marin AS will design the fuel cell.PHOTO: SEMBCORP MARINE

SINGAPORE (THE BUSINESS TIMES) - Marine and offshore engineering group Sembcorp Marine and high-speed craft builder Penguin International are working with Shell to trial the maiden use of hydrogen fuel cells for ships in Singapore, the oil major said on Wednesday (April 21).

In a statement, Shell said its analysis points to hydrogen with fuel cells as "the zero-emissions technology which has the greatest potential to help the shipping sector achieve net-zero emissions by 2050".

"If successful, this collaboration could help pave the way for cleaner, hydrogen-powered shipping," it said.

The trial involves the development and installation of an auxiliary power unit proton exchange membrane fuel cell on an existing roll-on/roll-off vessel that transports goods, vehicles and equipment between the mainland and Shell's Pulau Bukom manufacturing site.

Proton exchange membrane fuel cells transform hydrogen into electricity, and can be used to power automobiles. A roll-on/roll-off vessel is a cargo ship designed to carry wheeled cargo such as cars, trucks and buses.

Sembcorp Marine and its wholly owned subsidiary LMG Marin AS will design the fuel cell and retrofit the vessel owned by Penguin International. Shell will charter the vessel and provide hydrogen fuel.

The team will first carry out a feasibility study, with the intention to install the fuel cell next year. The vessel will operate for a trial period of 12 months, Shell said.

Mr Nick Potter, general manager of Shell shipping and maritime in the Asia-Pacific and the Middle East, said: "We see fuel cells and hydrogen as a promising pathway for decarbonising shipping and working with partners in this way will develop our understanding of this critical technology."

Sembcorp Marine president and chief executive Wong Weng Sun said the projects hold new possibilities for decarbonisation in the marine and energy industry.

"Hydrogen fuel cells have the potential to revolutionise shipping and transportation, enabling the industry to become greener, with the ambition to achieve the 2050 target set by the International Maritime Organisation to reduce total greenhouse gas emissions from international shipping by at least 50 per cent," he said in Shell's statement.

Singapore companies have in recent times been exploring opportunities to tap the low-carbon fuel.

On Monday, home-grown nanotechnology solutions provider Nanofilm Technologies announced its entry into a non-binding term sheet for a joint venture with Temasek to tap opportunities in the hydrogen energy economy.

In March last year, five Singapore and two Japanese companies signed a memorandum of understanding to study the feasibility of hydrogen as a cleaner energy source for the city state.

Sembcorp Marine shares closed flat at $0.205 on Wednesday. Units of Penguin International also closed flat, at $0.65.