Cruise operator Carnival Corporation has announced it will begin a trial fleet electrification programme on its AIDA Cruises line, beginning in 2020.
AIDA vessels will be fitted with lithium-ion batteries provided by Corvus Energy in the fleet electrification pilot, which will be the first deployment of wholly electric propulsion on a large cruise ship; with the first fully electric AIDA vessel set to launch in early 2020. If the trial is successful, Carnival will begin rolling out the technology to its Costa Cruises vessels.
Kendra Ulrich, Senior Shipping Campaigner at international environmental non-profit Stand.earth, said: “We applaud Carnival Corporation for taking the lead in developing zero-emission cruising technology. It is extremely encouraging that the largest cruise company in the world is finally exploring technologies that do not rely on fossil fuels or utilise false solutions like LNG or open-loop scrubbers. For years, environmental groups have been calling for the cruise industry to transition to hydrogen fuel cells and battery power from renewable sources — the only viable solutions for the cruise sector to adequately address its growing climate and human health-harming pollution.
“The global shipping industry is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than major industrial nations such as Germany and Canada, and the cruise sector — which has grown by more than 6% annually from 1990 to2020 with a projected 30 million passengers cruising in 2019 — has an important role to play as a leader in technological innovation. This is a major step forward into that leadership role. As the cruise sector’s global footprint has grown, so too has the criticism of its increasing climate, marine and human health-harming water and air pollution. Reducing the cruise industry’s pollution remains one of the biggest challenges.”
Carnival, which was sentenced to five years’ probation in 2017 for illegally dumping oil and attempting to conceal the offence, has garnered substantial criticism over its frequent environmental violations and the levels of pollution its vessels produce. A report published in June found that the operator was responsible for nearly 10 times the amount of air pollution than all cars on European roads.
Ms Ulrich added: “Despite today’s positive announcement, Carnival Corporation still fuels nearly all of its ships with one of the dirtiest fossil fuels available: heavy fuel oil. The vast majority of Carnival Corporation brands travel from North American ports, and many communities worldwide are impacted by cruise ship pollution almost every day. These port communities have the same right to clean shipping technologies as communities in Europe, where AIDA’s trial will take place. We hope Carnival will rapidly implement its hydrogen fuel cell and battery power technologies throughout the rest of its global fleet.”