Siemens and PowerCell to collaborate in fuel cell systems for ships

Sarah Carter
Sarah Carter

15 August 2018

PowerCell Sweden AB has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Germany's Siemens and Power Cell Sweden AB regarding a joint development of fuel cell-based drive and power generating systems for marine applications.

The aim is to integrate PowerCell’s fuel cell systems in Siemens’ existing systems for drive and power generation for the marine segment.

Siemens AG is a world leading manufacturer of integrated propulsion and power generating systems for marine applications and has developed a complete system that is being marketed and sold under the name of SISHIP BlueDrive. PowerCell and Siemens will jointly develop a fuel cell-based system that can be integrated into ships such as ferries, yachts and cruise ships.

Commercial shipping is affecting the environment through emissions of both carbon dioxide and particle matters.

The International Maritime Organization, IMO, has set a target to reduce the emissions from commercial shipping with 50 percent by 2050, which will require a substantial decrease in the use of fossil fuels. In June a power generating system based on PowerCell’s fuel cell stacks and developed by PowerCell’s Norwegian joint venture Hyon, got the first ever approval in principle for a fuel cell-based power generating system for marine vessels.

“In large segments of the marine industry a rapid transition has already started, with increased electrification and decreased use of fossil fuels as strong trends”, Per Wassén, CEO of PowerCell said. “If commercial shipping is to meet the IMO target, and seriously take on the challenge that the climate change poses, large sections of it has to convert to much more sustainable solutions. Fuel cells are a very promising alternative and Siemens and PowerCell see a great potential for the cooperation we are now entering into.”

A press release from Siemens Group added that the marine and shipbuilding industry is in a state of radical change: Environmentally friendly yet profitable solutions are vital to meet strict environmental requirements while still running ships economically.

It said that the answer comes from Siemens in the form of the SISHIP BlueDrive integrated energy and propulsion system: It is based on a fully integrated energy distribution in which the main control panel and all drives are contained in a single, compact unit. Various subassemblies can be flexibly and easily connected to the energy supply in ships.

The batteries being increasingly used in ferries in recent years have paved the way for this development. The next stage is to extend the energy supply concept to include fuel cells which are characterized by high efficiency and pollution-free operation. They are low-noise and are based on the almost unlimited availability of water as a resource.

The fuel cells will be supplied by PowerCell Sweden AB. This flexible and highly innovative European company is the perfect fit for Siemens which is always focused on meeting the needs of its customers. By 2020, both partners will have decided on an appropriate collaborative model.