The New Hydrogen Fuel Cell-Powered Ships From CCS Carbon Capture and Storage

a ship that could be using CCS technology

Maritime ships carry nearly 80 per cent of the world’s trade, by volume.1 This makes it not only essential to the global economy, but a major contributor to carbon emissions. Now, an increasing number of countries are exploring technologies that could change that. Some countries are also looking at hydrogen-based fuels as an option.2 Other countries are investing in carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology on ships.3

This article explores how the shipping industry is undergoing change to tackle climate change.

CCS (carbon capture and storage) can be used to fuel ships

International shipping has long been the backbone of international travel and trade. Today, it is also a major contributor to climate change. However, there aren’t many viable alternatives to fuelling the huge container ships that constantly travel the seas. So, what if a ship could capture and store the carbon dioxide it emits before it enters the atmosphere?

We call this carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology. Although it is not easy nor cheap to do this as of yet, some companies are actively investing in it. In 2020, the Japanese company Mitsubishi Shipbuilding started developing a CCS system to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by up to 90 per cent. It even mooted the idea of using the stored carbon as fuel.4 Norway is the world’s fifth-largest ship owning country. It is also exploring CCS technology to reduce carbon emissions for its trade fleet.5

image of maritime port and ccs carbon
Photo by Tom Fisk from Pexels

Shipping emissions are now being taken into consideration for the UK’s carbon budget

In 2008, the UK became the first country in the world to adopt a carbon budget through the Climate Change Act. The carbon budget set the country a limit for carbon emissions over a period of time and a target for cutting them by a certain date.

In 2021, for the first time, the UK government also incorporated its share of international aviation and shipping emissions on recommendation of the Climate Change Committee (CCC). The CCC was established in 2008 along with the Climate Change Act.6

CCS (carbon capture and storage) for ships is being tested in China

China has a mammoth task ahead to reach its pledge of net-zero carbon emissions by 2060. The country wants 90 per cent of vehicles to run on non-fossil fuels and half of all aircrafts to use green hydrogen. Also, it is building ships that capture and store their carbon emissions before being emitted. But, the technology is still in its early stages. China is also exploring the option of using green hydrogen fuels to power its trade ships.7


  1. (n.d.). Review of Maritime Transport 2018 | UNCTAD. [online] Available at:
  2. Timperley, J. (2020). Actually, the fuel that could transform shipping. [online] Available at:
  3. SINTEF. (2021). CCShip – Deploying Carbon Capture and Storage for ships to enable maritime CO2 emission mitigation. [online] Available at: [Accessed 25 May 2021].
  4. Morgan, S. (2020). World’s first “carbon-capture at sea” set for shipping trials. [online] Available at: [Accessed 25 May 2021].
  5. SINTEF. (2021). CCShip – Deploying Carbon Capture and Storage for ships to enable maritime CO2 emission mitigation. [online] Available at: [Accessed 25 May 2021].
  6. Carbon Brief. (2020). CCC: UK must cut emissions “78% by 2035” to be on course for net-zero goal. [online] Available at:
  7. Ng, E. (2020). China’s carbon neutral goal needs a lot of heavy lifting by industries. [online] South China Morning Post. Available at: [Accessed 25 May 2021].