Data analysis of vessels routes show that shipping is responsible of about 2,6% of world CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent) emissions. The effect on environment is increased as most of the emissions are concentrated in coastal areas. IMO and other bodies are making growing efforts to impose severe limits on shipping pollutions. Different technical and operational improvements have been made but hydrogen and fuel cells remain one of the best candidates to substantially reduce emissions and fuel consumption. This paper gives an updated review of the fuel cells applications in the marine sector and analyses the potential of different fuel cells technology for the on board installation. The analysis shows the advantages that fuel cells can give in terms of emissions reductions and fuel saving. The benefits are dependent on the type of ship and the operating profiles. Nevertheless, even if some fuel cells types are today ready for marine application, costs, hydrogen availability and certifications issues still hamper the full exploitation of the technology.
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