Carnival Corporation applauded for its commitment to trial fuel cells, battery power on AIDA ships

Carnival Corporation applauded for its commitment to trial fuel cells, battery power on AIDA ships

Monday August 26, 2019

International coalition has been calling for cruise industry to transition away from powering its ships with heavy fuel oil to zero-emission technology like hydrogen fuel cells, batteries

SAN FRANCISCO, CA — Carnival Corporation today announced it will test the use of battery power systems on its AIDA brand ships in a groundbreaking move that is being applauded by international environmental organization Stand.earth. For the past several years, Stand.earth and the Clean Up Carnival coalition have been calling for Carnival Corp. to transition away from powering its cruise ships with heavy fuel oil and move to zero-emission technologies, including hydrogen fuel cells and battery power from renewable sources.

The news comes on the heels of an announcement by AIDA earlier in July that the Carnival subsidiary would trial hydrogen fuel cells on its ships beginning in 2021. Installing hydrogen fuel cells from renewable sources — not LNG — would allow AIDA’s ships to generate emissions-free electric energy while underway. Hydrogen fuel cells and battery power from renewable sources would allow cruise ships to maintain zero-emission propulsion and meet the massive energy demands of a floating city — all without fossil fuels.

In response to today’s announcement, Kendra Ulrich, the Senior Shipping Campaigner at Stand.earth, issued the following statement:

We applaud Carnival Corporation for taking the lead in developing zero-emission cruising technology. It is extremely encouraging that the largest cruise company in the world is finally exploring technologies that do not rely on fossil fuels or utilize false solutions like LNG or open-loop scrubbers. For years, environmental groups have been calling for the cruise industry to transition to hydrogen fuel cells and battery power from renewable sources — the only viable solutions for the cruise sector to adequately address its growing climate and human health-harming pollution.

The global shipping industry is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than major industrial nations such as Germany and Canada, and the cruise sector — which has grown by more than 6% annually from 1990-2020 with a projected 30 million passengers cruising in 2019 — has an important role to play as a leader in technological innovation. This is a major step forward into that leadership role. As the cruise sector’s global footprint has grown, so too has the criticism of its increasing climate, marine, and human health-harming water and air pollution. Reducing the cruise industry’s pollution remains one of the biggest challenges. 

Despite today’s positive announcement, Carnival Corporation still fuels nearly all of its ships with one of the dirtiest fossil fuels available — heavy fuel oil. The vast majority of Carnival Corporation brands travel from North American ports, and many communities worldwide are impacted by cruise ship pollution almost every day. These port communities have the same right to clean shipping technologies as communities in Europe, where AIDA’s trial will take place. We hope Carnival will rapidly implement its hydrogen fuel cell and battery power technologies throughout the rest of its global fleet.

Earlier this month in an interview with PBS News Hour, Tom Boardley, the secretary general in Europe for Cruise Lines International Association, said the cruise industry needs to move to “hydrogen … or some other solution” — another indication that the cruise industry may be stepping back from touting LNG ships as a climate solution and focusing on fuel cells and other truly clean technologies. 

Transitioning cruise ships to LNG has been an increasingly popular “climate solution” — but relying upon LNG for ship fuel results in significant unintentional methane releases throughout the supply chain. Methane (the primary component of LNG) is a greenhouse gas approximately 86 times more potent than CO2 over a 20 year period — the timeframe when the world needs to rapidly reduce climate-warming emissions — and is 34 times more potent than CO2 over a 100-year period.

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Media contact: Virginia Cleaveland, Communications Manager, virginia@stand.earth, 510-858-9902 (US) or 778-984-3994 (Canada)