LONDON–Technavio’s latest market research report on the global fuel cells for marine vessels market provides an analysis of the most important trends expected to impact the market outlook from 2017-2021. Technavio defines an emerging trend as a factor that has the potential to significantly impact the market and contribute to its growth or decline.
One of the key drivers fueling the growth of the global fuel cells for marine vessels market is the rising demand for alternate propulsion systems. Over the years, there has been substantial evolution in marine propulsion systems market. Conventional systems are typically based on diesel engines and gas turbines, with their primary function being to convert chemical energy of the fuel into mechanical energy. There has been a shift towards alternative propulsion systems in the recent years.
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The three emerging market trends driving the global fuel cells for marine vessels market according to Technavio research analysts are:
- Evolution of hydrogen as a marine fuel
- Adoption of AIP technology
- Emergence of hybrid propulsion systems
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Evolution of hydrogen as a marine fuel
There has been a shift towards fuels such as low sulfur fuel oil (LSFO, which releases negligible sulfur oxide emissions) and hydrogen fuel (which has zero emissions owing to the production of water on burning) by the global marine transportation industry because of stringent regulatory pressures from governments and increase in bunker fuel oil prices. Globally, there has been increased recent adoption of hydrogen fuel for transportation applications.
According to Moutushi Saha, a lead analyst at Technavio for defense technology, “Hydrogen can be produced by electrolyzing water. If the electrolysis process uses renewable energy sources (like wind energy), the hydrogen fuel that is produced is also renewable. Hydrogen is being deployed in fuel cells to power propulsion system of marine vessels because of such advantages. In 2012, FutureShip, a German company, designed a zero-emission container feeder vessel, which is expected to be operational by 2017. Small vessels that possess regular refueling ability also use hydrogen fuel cell technology.”
Adoption of AIP technology
Air-independent propulsion (AIP) is a technology that uses fuel cells to power the propulsion system of marine vessels such as submarines. It permits non-nuclear submarines to operate without the need to surface for oxygen. Nuclear submarines utilize onboard nuclear reactors to generate power whereas the non-nuclear submarines typically run on battery power. Due to their low acoustic signature, the stealth capabilities of non-nuclear submarines can be enhanced.
Some submarines use fuel cells such as PAFCs and PEMFCs. A fuel cell-based AIP system, is being developed by India that can be integrated in submarines. Luxury cruise vessels are also focusing on quieter operation.
Emergence of hybrid propulsion systems
There has been rising interest in reducing the negative impact of the shipping industry because of the increase in the volume of world trade by sea route by 80%. The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has thus planned regulations, measures, and emission reduction policies to control GHG emissions by marine vessels. To measure the increase in energy efficiency of ships, the hybrid electric power and propulsion concepts have been recommended by experts as an EEDI.
“Several changes have been brought to battery technology by the recent advancements in marine propulsion systems. A wide range of advantages are offered by the battery system with fuel cells and hybrid electric systems, which is an emerging technology. There is no release of any harmful emission by recharging such batteries. Additionally, such setups allow the generation of electricity to power the gas turbine propulsion system in ships,” says Moutushi.
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