Three Gorges hydrogen ship No.1

Pioneering 500kW Hydrogen-Fueled Ship Sets Sail in China

China’s groundbreaking 500kW hydrogen fuel cell-powered service ship, Three Gorges hydrogen ship No.1, has commenced operation in Zhongshan, Guangdong Province. The vessel, with a maximum speed of 28 km/h and a 200 km cruise range, is more cost-efficient and quieter than traditional oil-fueled ships. The domestically-produced hydrogen fuel cells and lithium battery system signal a significant breakthrough for China’s new energy shipbuilding and hydrogen technology application in inland vessels. As part of China’s push towards carbon neutrality by 2050, the country’s hydrogen fuel cell market is predicted to exceed ¥10bn ($1.45bn).

Developing China’s Hydrogen Technology

Three Gorges hydrogen ship No.1, developed by China Three Gorges Corporation, aims to serve multiple purposes, including transportation, patrol, and emergency response in the Three Gorges reservoir area[1]. The ship’s hydrogen fuel cell and lithium battery power system are entirely homegrown, demonstrating China’s commitment to advancing hydrogen technology and reducing its reliance on traditional energy sources.

Wang Zhen, the director of the system integration office at China State Shipbuilding Corporation, announced that the vessel had received formal product certification from the China Classification Society (CCS)[2]. According to Wang, “the ship has the largest power and energy storage in the world’s official ships”[2].

Green Shipping and China’s Renewable Energy Goals

China has experienced rapid growth in the development of modified and newly-built hydrogen-powered ships, with experts predicting that the domestic hydrogen fuel cell market could reach tens of billions of yuan in the coming years[2]. The nation has introduced various policies and guidance to accelerate the renewable energy-powered ship industry, aligning with its target of achieving carbon peaking by 2030 and carbon neutrality by 2050[1].

In recent years, Chinese ship developers have increasingly focused on smart and green technologies to provide innovative solutions for the global market. For instance, Nantong Cosco Khi Ship Engineering Co., Ltd has manufactured the world’s largest container ship with a cargo capacity of 24,188 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs), with around 10 orders pending[1]. The company has also developed dual-fuel methanol-powered container ships, which have garnered significant market attention and enhanced China’s shipbuilding capabilities in mid-to-high-end ship types[1].

Last March, the world’s largest electric cruise ship, Yangtze River Three Gorges No.1, embarked on its maiden voyage and commenced commercial operation in April[1].

The Future of Hydrogen-Powered Ships

The successful launch and operation of Three Gorges hydrogen ship No.1 highlight China’s commitment to promoting green shipping and renewable energy solutions in the global maritime industry. As the world moves towards cleaner and more sustainable energy sources, hydrogen-powered ships are expected to play a significant role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and combating climate change. The continued investment and development of hydrogen technology in China and around the world will likely usher in a new era of sustainable and eco-friendly shipping solutions.