MSC Pledges To Achieve Zero Emissions By 2050

The cruise division of MSC Group has pledged to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in its cruise marine operation by 2050. This target will cover its contemporary MSC Cruises and luxury Explora Journeys brands, and aims to go beyond the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) plans to reduce emissions from shipping by 50 percent by 2050 compared to 2008.

Additionally, MSC has joined Getting to Zero Coalition’s call to action to accelerate the decarbonization of the overall shipping sector, including 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 and joint action by the private and public sectors. The call to action will be delivered to world governments in November 2021, in advance of the COP26 summit.

In recent years, the company has focused on reducing GHG emissions through the introduction of energy-efficiency and operational improvement measures across its fleet. Having introduced an annual efficiency improvement of two to four percent across the fleet, by 2019 the company had achieved a 28 percent efficiency improvement compared to 2008. It is well on its way to meeting the IMO’s 40 percent intensity reduction target by 2030; however, energy efficiency improvements and operational measures alone will not suffice to put the shipping sector on a decarbonization course. Hence, the company is participating in several industry research projects seeking to develop the technologies and fuels that offer the potential to enable zero-emissions ships.

The MSC Cruise Division recently joined hands with shipbuilder Fincantieri and energy infrastructure company Snam to determine the conditions for the design and construction of what could become the world’s first oceangoing hybrid hydrogen/liquefied natural gas (LNG)-powered cruise ship, which would allow for zero-emissions operations in certain areas. These include arranging ship spaces to accommodate the necessary hydrogen technologies and fuel cells, calculating the potential greenhouse gas emissions savings, identifying the technical parameters of onboard systems, and technical and economic analysis of hydrogen supply and shore-based infrastructure.

Fuel cells offer great potential to achieve significant 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, the MSC Cruise Division and Chantiers de l’Atlantique unveiled Blue Horizon, an R&D project that focuses on the integration of a solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) technology on LNG-powered cruise ships.

The company’s cruise division has also joined a consortium with GE Power Conversion, Ceres Power Holdings and Lloyd’s Register to explore how to address the barriers to the 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 emissions reduction.

The MSC Cruise Division 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, involves the World Maritime University, Wärtsilä, Cargill and Lloyds Register, among others.

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