Cruise Ship of the Future:
Ponant’s Designs for Fuel Cell Powered Cruise Ship

Ponant, a French cruise company, has announced its plans to build a next-generation cruise ship that will combine six innovative technologies to achieve zero greenhouse gas emissions. The project, called Swap2Zero, is expected to be completed by 2030 and will be a showcase of French technological excellence in the field of decarbonization.

The Swap2Zero Concept

The Swap2Zero concept was developed in collaboration with Stirling Design International, a naval architecture firm. This innovative design aims to use renewable energy from the wind and sun, as well as low-carbon non-fossil energy from fuel cells, to power a 594-foot cruise ship with 100 cabins. The ship will also feature carbon capture technology and a bespoke energy management system.

The six technologies that will be integrated into the Swap2Zero ship are:

  • A sail power system and hull that will provide an average of 50% of the propulsion energy using the force of the wind. Ponant is considering two options for the sail technology: Ayro Oceanwings or Solid Sail (Solid Sail is pictured above).
  • A surface area totaling over 1,000 square meters of photovoltaic panels, with new generation organic solar eco-designed devices integrated into the structures and sails.
  • A low-temperature fuel cell operating on liquid hydrogen for propulsion, with the water and heat produced being recycled.
  • A high-temperature fuel cell to meet the ship’s hotel load requirements, with the heat emitted being recovered and used to produce hot water.
  • A carbon capture technology, coupled with the high-temperature fuel cell, that will reduce the CO2 equivalent emissions of the ship to zero.
  • A bespoke energy management system that will control and distribute power without any generators being in service.

The Vision Behind Swap2Zero

Ponant is a company of sailors focused on exploration and innovation, and it is this pioneering spirit that is inspiring the whole Swap2Zero program. According to Hervé Gastinel, CEO of Ponant, “By 2030, our future ship aims to have zero greenhouse gas emissions when sailing, maneuvering, in port or at anchor. Her carbon footprint will be reduced throughout her life cycle.”

The cost of Ponant’s Swap2Zero cruise ship has not been disclosed yet, but it is likely to be very high, considering the innovative technologies and the premium standard of the vessel. According to Mathieu Petiteau, Ponant’s Newbuilding and R&D Director, the ship will have the same standard as Le Commandant Charcot, which is Ponant’s newest and most luxurious ship. Le Commandant Charcot is a hybrid electric polar exploration vessel that operates on liquefied natural gas (LNG) and has a capacity of 270 passengers. The cost of Le Commandant Charcot was reported to be around 324 million euros (about 366 million US dollars) in 2018, so it is reasonable to assume that the Swap2Zero ship will have a similar or higher price tag.

However, Ponant is not alone in pursuing this ambitious goal- several other cruise companies, such as Royal Caribbean Group, MSC Cruises, Viking and Hurtigruten, also have been testing or developing fuel cells, batteries, sails and other technologies to reduce their environmental impact. However, Ponant claims that its Swap2Zero concept is unique in its transoceanic capability and its comprehensive approach to decarbonization.

Ponant hopes that its Swap2Zero project will not only offer a new mode of navigation for its passengers, but also actively contribute to the decarbonization of the maritime sector. “With Swap2Zero, we are building a French technological showcase to convince other stakeholders to commit to carbon-neutral navigation,” says Gastinel.

We at the Herd Law Firm are proud to fight for maritime workers and passengers in all types of personal injury claims, and never waver in our commitment to help these maritime workers and their families when they are injured.


Image Source: Ponat



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