CMA CGM Partners with Energy Observer to Study Hydrogen Fuel

Mike Schuler
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February 10, 2020
File Photo: Energy Observer. Photo: Antoine Drancey / CC BY-SA 4.0

French containership giant CMA CGM is partnership with the hydrogen-powered vessel project Energy Observer to study and promote the zero-emission fuel within the shipping industry. 

Launched in 2017, the Energy Observer is the first hydrogen powered-vessel to embark on a round-the-world voyage. The “green” hydrogen used by the vessel is made from seawater using on-board renewable sources, namely solar, wind and hydropower.

Through its partnership with CMA CGM, Energy Observer will act as a a sort of floating laboratory to study the fuel and develop solutions that could be helpful in deploying hydrogen fuel on a large scale within the global shipping industry. 

“CMA CGM and Energy Observer R&D experts will pool their expertise and knowledge to develop technological solutions capable of limiting the environmental impact of shipping. The mobilization of CMA CGM will make possible the industrialization of new concrete energy solutions tested on board this floating smart grid,” CMA CGM said in a press release.

The United Nations’ International Maritime Organization (IMO) estimates that the world’s shipping fleet accounts for more than 2 percent of the human-produced CO2 emissions globally. In response, in April 2018 the IMO agreed to an initial strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from ships by 50% by 2050 compared to 2008, while simultaneously pursuing efforts towards phasing them out entirely. The ambitious goal will require zero-carbon vessels and fuels to be in use by as soon as 2030.

Hydrogen has emerged as one of the alternative fuels that could help shipping meet the challenge. 

“CMA CGM is joining forces with Energy Observer to accelerate the development of tomorrow’s energy solutions, particularly hydrogen,” said Tanya Saadé Zeenny, Executive Officer of the CMA CGM Group. “Our partnership will mobilize all of CMA CGM’s know-how. Our teams of engineers and R&D experts are already working and our network around the world will be strongly mobilized to ensure the logistical support of Energy Observer’s worldwide ports of call.”

For its role, CMA CGM has made efforts to reduce its CO2 emissions per container transported by 50% between 2005 and 2015, and it has set itself the target of reducing it by a further 30% between 2015 and 2025.

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