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Why has MSC Cruises chosen liquefied natural gas (LNG) technology for its next vessel, MSC World Europa?

MSC World Europa will be delivered to us in December 2022 from the Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard in Saint-Nazaire, France and will be the first vessel to join our fleet that will be powered by liquified natural gas, LNG.

The GT 200,000 vessel will be our most innovative and environmentally advanced cruise ship to date.

LNG is currently the cleanest and most efficient fuel commercially available at scale and it will enable MSC World Europa to benefit from a 99 per cent reduction in sulphur compared to traditional fuels, an 85 per cent decrease in nitrogen oxides and a 98 per cent fall in particulates.

LNG is not only the cleanest marine fuel available today, but it is also an enabler of innovative technologies such as fuel cells, which will be needed in the future when we will have access to green fuels such as hydrogen.

Taking account of potential methane slip, the use of LNG fuel can provide up to 21% improvement in greenhouse gas emissions from tank to wake. This is lower when looking at the well to wake, taking account of upstream potential methane slip, but there has been positive progress on this.

LNG is also very important to the development of fuel cell solutions for shipping as these technologies cannot be operated with traditional fuels.

MSC Cruises, Chantiers de I’Atlantique and a consortium of leading energy and technology companies are working on the development of a pilot LNG-powered solid oxide fuel cell technology for cruise ships.

We believe that this could potentially and significantly reduce further greenhouse gas emissions because of the higher efficiency of the technology deployed.

Should the test cell results meet our hopes and expectations, these could be scaled up on our future ship deliveries using either LNG or green hydrogen as a fuel source.

How could this choice be a competitive advantage for your customers?

We want to provide our guests not only with a wonderful, relaxing and memorable holiday but also a sustainable one and an LNG-powered ship is an intrinsic part of our innovation programme.

MSC World Europa signifies another important step forward for us in terms of our long-term vision for zero emissions by 2050.

Have you plans for other LNG-powered ships to join your fleet?

We are currently committed to three LNG-powered ships with all three from the Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard. MSC World Europa in December 2022, MSC Euribia in 2023 and a further delivery in 2025.

Construction of MSC Euribia started in June this year including her four Wärtsilä (12V and 16V) dual fuel engines.

Other than LNG, which other technologies are used to limit the environmental impact?

All our new ships are equipped with the latest technology available.

Our ships that utilise traditional maritime fuels are fitted with exhaust gas cleaning systems to ensure sulphur levels are well within regulatory requirements. These will not be required with LNG powered ships as the fuel is already very low in sulphur.

All of our new builds are fitted with selective catalytic reduction systems that reduce nitrogen oxide emissions by 90 per cent.

And all of new ships that have joined our fleet since 2017 are fitted with shore power capability and this will be retrofit on existing ships as shore power becomes available in the ports we operate into.

All new builds since 2017 have advanced wastewater treatments systems, cleaning wastewater from the ships to near tap water quality.

A large proportion of our ships create their own freshwater onboard and this means we’re not reliant on ports to provide this.

And we have extensive procedures in place all of our ships to maximise the segregation of wastes for recycling purposes.

Are you looking for any other future fuel types?

We announced in July the signing of a memorandum of understanding with Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri and Snam, one of the country’s mail energy infrastructure companies to determine the conditions for the design and construction of what would become the world’s first oceangoing hydrogen-powered cruise ship. This would allow zero-emissions operations in certain areas, and the development of the related hydrogen bunkering infrastructure.

Green hydrogen can be produced without fossil fuels, using renewable energy to split water in a process called electrolysis and can therefore be emissions-free on a full lifecycle basis. It can be used to generate electrical power through a fuel cell, emitting only water vapour and heat. ’Green’ hydrogen holds great potential to contribute to the decarbonisation of the shipping industry, including cruising, whether in its pure form or as a hydrogen-derived fuel.

And earlier this year we joined the EU-funded CHEK Consortium to promote low-carbon shipping, all through combining energy technologies and innovative ship design.

The three-year project will seek to demonstrate the benefits of innovative technologies including hydrogen propulsion, ultrasound antifouling, hull air-lubrication, waste to energy systems and digitalised optimisation software, fully integrated to maximise efficiency across all aspects of ship operation.

CHEK is a reflection of the fact that there is no silver bullet to address decarbonization and we need to consider and integrate multiple technologies. It is about how we work collaboratively to maximise potential.

We are keeping an open mind in terms of future technology and will consider every potential solution. When it comes to new fuels, we have to make the right decisions as an industry, not only vis a vis the environment but also from the future regulatory perspective.