Wind + H2: Toward Decarbonizing Global Shipping

Despite a recent, and likely temporary, decrease in the rate of global productivity, global carbon emissions are rising relentlessly year to year. Importantly, climate science contributes that there is a *tight* link between these rising greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and Earth’s climate…the rate of climate change is only accelerating. There are potential humanitarian, ecological, biological, and geopolitical conflicts in the making.

One component of the global GHG budget is cargo shipping, amounting to about 3% of global GHG emissions annually (which is among the highest contributions from any one, single industry). The International Council on Clean Transportation (@theICCT), a global transportation sustainability research group, is exploring the viability of introducing zero-emissions fuel technologies (like liquid Hydrogen) in global shipping to stem GHG emissions from the sector in the years and decades to come. The work is complementary to The International Maritime Organization’s push to execute a far-reaching GHG strategy – with the current aim to reduce carbon emissions from the global shipping sector by 50% (relative to 2008 levels) by 2050.

In a working paper put out earlier this year, the ICCT found that 43% of deep-water/long-haul voyages between the U.S. and China by large container ships could be completed using liquid Hydrogen fuel exclusively. Moreover, that tally boosted to 99% of the voyages if a small fraction (5%) of the cargo space onboard was re-allocated to carry renewable fuel. This is a promising set of results, because using liquid Hydrogen fuel eliminates direct GHG emissions into the atmosphere altogether! However, there is potential that these renewable/zero-emission fuel technologies will not gain traction in the maritime sector because of potential revenue lost by replacing containers with renewable fuel storage, the high expense of implementing nascent fuel technology, and the relatively short supply of liquid Hydrogen in the immediate term. That’s where Cross Product comes in…

Cross Product Atmospheric has partnered once more with the ICCT, to explore how innovative wind-assist approaches (i.e., renewable wind power) can supplement zero-emissions fuel technologies toward decarbonizing the global shipping sector, sooner rather than later. In other words, Cross Product will explore how accounting for the wind can materially improve prospects for shipping’s adoption of zero-emissions fuel technologies. We anticipate that the potential findings will help drive tighter Energy Efficiency Designs for ship building, promote new international maritime policy, and set a course toward cleaner global shipping accordingly. Stay tuned!