SINGAPORE - The world's first hydrogen-powered vessel, the Energy Observer, arrived in Singapore on Thursday (March 10) for a 10-day stopover, its first and only one in Asia.
Setting off in 2017 from the French port city of Saint-Malo, the laboratory vessel has travelled around the world without leaving a carbon footprint, to research renewable energy on board while advocating for its use through its voyage.
The ship is powered by a combination of renewable energies, where solar, wind and water power have been harnessed to extract hydrogen from seawater through electrolysis.
This electrolysis generates hydrogen "fuel" by splitting water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen, and functions as the boat's long-term energy storage without other harmful emissions.
The energy store allows the vessel to travel autonomously without immediate dependence on good weather conditions or the need for refuelling.
Mr Louis-Noel Vivies, Energy Observer's general manager, said: "Hydrogen is like the Swiss Army knife of fuel - it can be burned on a compression engine or used in a fuel cell."
Hydrogen is also readily and immediately available on a maritime vessel, he added.
The Energy Observer's visit comes after a maritime technological partnership was signed by France and Singapore in 2021.
During its stopover here, the Energy Observer will also further advocate for the use of hydrogen fuel aboard vessels through meetings with key stakeholders such as the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA).
The development of alternative energy sources to reduce Singapore's carbon footprint has become a national imperative and the decarbonisation of the maritime industry plays an important role.
Some measures include setting up the Maritime Singapore Decarbonisation Blueprint 2050, and plans for building a decarbonisation centre in Singapore and for Tuas Port to be serviced by a fleet of fully electric, automated, guided vehicles around 2040.
MPA chief executive Quah Ley Hoon said: "This is the first time that Singapore welcomes a hydrogen-powered and zero-emission vessel, and it speaks of the aspiration we have as a global hub port to welcome more of such low or zero carbon vessels."
An exhibition village has been set up near the docked vessel for public viewing on March 19 and 20.
Situated at ONE°15 Marina Sentosa Cove, the exhibition has information about the ship's voyage, its key milestones and the benefits of using hydrogen energy.
Those who want to visit the exhibition may make a booking here.