MEPC 80: How Fuel Cells Can Power Maritime Decarbonization’s Next Step

The recently concluded MEPC 80 has brought forth revised strategies by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to tackle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. While some may argue that the outcomes fall short of expectations, it is important to recognize that these new regulations represent a significant step in the right direction. The message is clear: the shipping industry must invest in decarbonization without delay.



Uptake of Zero or Near-Zero GHG Emission Technologies

One of the notable outcomes of MEPC 80 is establishing a target for adopting zero or near-zero GHG emission technologies, fuels, and energy sources. The IMO aims for these alternatives to account for at least 5%, with an aspiration of 10%, of the energy used by international shipping by 2030. Fortunately, the technologies required to achieve these targets already exist. Direct use of hydrogen or the utilization of methanol reformation for near- or net-zero hydrogen power is a viable option that can be implemented using existing propulsion chains.



The Role of Zero-Emission Technologies in Achieving Goals

To meet and surpass the objectives set by the IMO, the industry must embrace these emerging zero-emission technologies. The regulators aspire to peak GHG emissions from international shipping as early as possible and attain net-zero GHG emissions by or close to 2050. While the targets lack specific details, the draft framework provides a roadmap for more precise legislation. This framework will drive the widespread adoption of zero-emission technologies, such as fuel cell stacks and systems. It will also foster the momentum behind “true-zero” options, including hydrogen fuel cells, which produce zero tailpipe GHG emissions. Additionally, a mix of low-carbon alternatives like green methanol or ammonia will contribute to achieving these ambitious goals. Fuel cells play a vital role in this transition as the most efficient method of extracting energy from low- or zero-carbon fuels.



The Pioneering Efforts of PowerCell Group

PowerCell Group, a leading innovator in the field, is at the forefront of developing a new generation of fuel cells capable of providing power at the megawatt scale. Our advancements are poised to unlock the benefits of fuel cells for a broader range of vessels than ever before. By offering scalable solutions, PowerCell is actively contributing to the decarbonization of the maritime industry.


The outcomes of MEPC 80 may not be as stringent or definitive as some desired, but they represent a crucial turning point in the pursuit of maritime decarbonization. The establishment of targets for zero or near-zero GHG emission technologies sends a clear message to the shipping industry: the time for investing in sustainable solutions is now. By leveraging existing technologies and propelling the adoption of fuel cell systems and other zero-emission options, the industry can work towards peaking emissions and achieving net-zero GHG emissions within the next three decades. Our ground-breaking developments further bolster the feasibility of these goals, bringing us closer to a greener and more sustainable future for international shipping.