Hydrogen Europe has launched a new paper that examines how hydrogen can play a key role in decarbonizing the maritime sector, as well as the unique opportunity ports have to become hydrogen hubs.
Hydrogen is highlighted in this new paper as a versatile, carbon-free fuel source that may be utilized for a variety of powering applications.
Despite this, it is a difficult element to store when compared to hydrogen-based fuels like ammonia, e-methanol, and e-diesel, which all have higher volumetric energy densities.
Hydrogen Europe discovered that ammonia is the cheapest synthetic fuel (based on renewable hydrogen) for large ships, with the trade-off being that as the energy density of the fuels grows, so does the cost.
According to the paper, a regulatory framework for clean hydrogen and e-fuels is lacking, which is required to enable the use of the clean fuel by large enterprises.
Furthermore, the costs of developing e-fuels and clean hydrogen are currently expensive, implying that these costs must be reduced before they become a popular solution.
Shipowners are hesitant to invest in large vessels that use new alternative fuels as a result of these considerations, and marine ports are likewise hesitant to engage in alternative fuels storage and bunkering facilities.
Both of these issues must be solved in order to hasten the transition to greener fuels.
Despite this, clean hydrogen is viewed as the most practical and cost-effective alternative for short-distance ships and inland vessels, which will be the first to adopt hydrogen.
Hydrogen Europe calculated the quantity of pure hydrogen that ships calling on EU ports and intra-EU shipping could theoretically require in the long run.
Ports could potentially become important hydrogen hubs, according to the paper, supporting not only maritime cargo but also the larger power transformation.
Hydrogen is produced locally in various European industrial centres (Antwerp, Zeeland, Rotterdam), mainly from natural gas by steam methane reforming to produce grey hydrogen.
Grey hydrogen will need to be gradually replaced with renewable or low-carbon hydrogen, opening up the possibility of establishing a huge hydrogen demand center in ports and establishing a shipping supply chain.
This would be bolstered by the fact that many port locations feature industrial facilities from hard-to-abate industries, such as the steel industry, which is increasingly considering hydrogen as a decarbonization option.