MSC Cruises has announced that it plans to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. This target will cover both MSC Cruises and its new luxury brand Explora Journeys.
The cruise line’s goal goes beyond the International Maritime Organization’s ambition to reduce emissions from shipping by 50 percent by 2050 compared to 2008, and sets the company on a race to help accelerate the technological and fuel advancements needed to achieve this goal.
MSC has signed Getting to Zero Coalition’s Call to Action to accelerate the decarbonization of the shipping sector, which includes cruising.
The Call to Action includes three demands to enable this:
- Setting a target for zero emission shipping by 2050
- Deploying commercially viable zero emission vessels by 2030
- Joint action by the private and public sectors
The Call to Action will be delivered to world governments in November 2021 in advance of COP26 (the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference).
Pierfrancesco Vago, Executive Chairman of MSC Cruises, said “As a family business with over three hundred years of maritime heritage, we have always felt a deep responsibility towards our marine environment and our planet. Today we are taking our commitment one step further by embracing a net zero emissions future within the next three decades. We will achieve this by investing in and otherwise supporting the accelerated development and implementation of innovative, cutting-edge technologies to be deployed across our fleet, continuously raising the bar of environmental performance and leading our industry forward.”
“Collaboration between operators, shipyards, technology manufacturers, academic institutions, public authorities and governments will be essential. There are already encouraging signs of such partnerships enabling progress, but more can and must be done. I call on all parties to work relentlessly towards this end and bring about the next great energy transition in our industry.”
In recent years, MSC has focused on reducing GHG emissions intensity through the introduction of energy efficiency and operational improvement measures across its fleet. By 2019, the company had achieved a 28 percent efficiency improvement compared to 2008, and is well on track to meeting the IMO’s 2030 40 percent intensity reduction target.
Looking ahead, energy efficiency improvements and operational measures alone won’t be enough to put shipping on a decarbonization course, so MSC Cruises is helping accelerate the technological evolution that is required.
Some of this involvement includes taking part in several industry research projects:
Hydrogen Powered Vessels
MSC Cruises recently partnered up with shipbuilder Fincantieri and energy infrastructure company Snam to determine the conditions for design and construction of what could become the world’s first oceangoing hybrid hydrogen/LNG-powered cruise ship. This would allow for zero-emissions operations in certain areas.
These include arranging ship spaces to accommodate the hydrogen technologies and fuel cells, identifying the technical parameters of onboard systems, calculating the potential greenhouse gas emissions savings, and a technical and economic analysis of hydrogen supply and shore-based infrastructure.
Fuel Cells on LNG Powered Vessels
Fuel cells offer great potential to achieve meaningful reductions. Having ordered three ships that will run on LNG, a transitional fuel that offers up to 21 percent less greenhouse gas emissions, MSC is studying the integration of fuel cells as a means to achieve further reductions. In 2019, MSC Cruises and Chantiers de l’Atlantique unveiled Blue Horizon, a ground-breaking R&D project that focuses on the integration of a Solid Oxide Fuel Cell (SOFC) technology on LNG-powered cruise ships.
Retrofitting Fuel Cell Technology
MSC has also joined a consortium with GE Power Conversion, Lloyd’s Register, and Ceres Power Holdings to explore how to address the barriers to adoption of fuel cells in large ship applications.
It will examine how SOFCs can be integrated into a ship’s operational functionality including the existing power and propulsion architecture and layout, allowing the impact of using SOFC technology to be quantified in terms of overall emission reduction. The project has been awarded funding as part of the UK Department for Transport’s Clean Maritime Demonstration Competition.
Low Carbon Technologies and Ship Design
MSC Cruises has also partnered with industry leaders and academia in a research project that promotes low-carbon shipping by combining progressive energy technologies and innovative ship design. Led by the University of Vaasa, the CHEK Consortium — decarbonizing shipping by enabling Key Technology symbiosis on real vessels concept designs project — involves the World Maritime University, Wärtsilä, Cargill, and Lloyds Register, among others.