Carnival unveils new hybrid technology to power its cruise ships

A Carnival Corp. cruise ship will soon be powered by a first-of-its-kind fuel cell system technology, the company announced Monday.

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The debut of the hybrid system will happen on AIDA Cruises by 2021. AIDA is Carnival’s German-based cruise line. The introduction of this hybrid system will allow for lower emissions from the cruise ship as well as other benefits such as reduced noise and lower vibrations.

Carnival said, “the fuel cells are expected to have a longer lifecycle than those currently being developed for automobiles, with early trials on land showing a lifespan of over 35,000 operating hours.” The ships will run on the fuel cells but also will burn liquefied natural gas (LNG), one of the cleanest burning fuel sources currently available.

“We have been investing in new green technology like fuel cells, LNG, and other emerging technology as an important part of our environmental strategy,” said Roger Frizzell, senior vice president and chief communications officer at Carnival. “This is a journey that never ends for all of us.”

It is a project that is a blend of public and private interests. The technology behind the fuel cell system was funded by Germany's Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure.

In its “2019 Cruise Ship Report Card” of the “environmental footprint of 16 major cruise lines and 185 cruise ships,” the Friends of the Earth organization gave Carnival an “F” grade. They were one of nine cruise lines to receive a failing grade in a survey that included topics such as “Sewage Treatment” and “Transparency” among several other grading categories.

Ten ships under the Carnival umbrella that utilize liquefied natural gas (a clean-burning fossil fuel) will be hitting the open seas in the coming years. This is a development that Carnival says “supports the company's environmental goals with the virtual total elimination of sulfur dioxide emissions (zero emissions) and particulate matter (95% to 100% reduction). The use of LNG will also substantially reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides and carbon dioxide.”

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In addition, Carnival announced that an AIDA ship will utilize a lithium-ion battery power system to fuel its operations for one of its ships by 2020.