Hybrid energy systems for cargo ships, which couple efficient fuel cells with advanced batteries, are helping to bring down costs and emissions in the maritime sector.

The Norway-based FellowSHIP project was an R&D collaboration between DNV GL, Wartsila and Eidesvik who set out in 2002 to experiment with innovative technology for shipping. They designed the ‘Viking Lady’ ship in 2009 which started with dual-fuel engines and conventional diesel-electric propulsion. She was then gradually hybridized by installing a 320 kW Molten Carbonate Fuel Cell and then a 450 kWh lithium-ion battery.

Over the next few years, DNV GL will continue with the FellowSHIP project by testing and monitoring operational progress with the ‘Viking Lady’ as it is put to work in the North Sea. Making advances in the control of the hybrid system will be key to maximising its efficiency.

Why you should care

Recent developments in ship electrification have allowed hybridization and smart power management to be possible, leading to greater energy efficiency. According to DNV GL, batteries with high energy density are suitable for full or hybrid electric marine propulsion, paving the way for near-zero emissions shipping. Lithium-ion battery technology exhibits efficiencies of up to 98% at a currently estimated cost of about 600 USD/kWh.

How the Global Goals are addressed

Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure

Combining fuel cell and battery technologies to create hybrid ships can bring down costs and emissions for the international shipping industry.

Climate Action

Shipping currently accounts for around 3% of the world’s greenhouse emissions. Hybrid technologies like DNV’s ‘Viking Lady’ show how these emissions can be reduced.