In April 2018, the International Maritime Organisation, IMO adopted an initial strategy on reduction of GHG emissions from ships (overall fleet target ≥50% CO2 reduction by 2050 compared to 2008) . Alternative fuels and FC technologies can help meet these environmental and climate goals but require short and medium-term measures to become sustainable, viable and safe solutions. H2 and FC technologies are not covered nor supported by existing regulations applicable to the maritime sector, undermining the willingness of actors (in particular ship-builders and owners) to invest and develop solutions based on these technologies.
The current IMO International Code of Safety for Ship Using Gases or Other Low-flashpoint Fuels, IGF Code  covers primarily LNG. It is nevertheless of outmost importance for the shipbuilding industry to have provisions for the introduction of other low-flashpoint fuels used by fuel cell power generation systems. Although the IGF Code itself provides general indications for a goal-oriented approach on such installations to introduce novel technologies, designers and operators can only rely upon a performance-based technology qualification process, supplemented by complex safety assessment methodologies.
Since a regulatory framework applicable to hydrogen fuelled ships is not yet available, the only approach is given by IMO generic ‘Alternative Design’ process whereby safety, reliability and dependability of the systems is to be proven equivalent to that of traditional fuels and power generation systems. Extensive formal safety assessment methodologies should be carried out and national flag administrations require specific and agreed regulatory framework to approve such installations.
To draft a dedicated chapter in the IGF Code, IMO member states would need to gather theoretical guidance, feedback from existing applications, best practices, reference from other industrial sectors, available technologies, safety procedures in design and operation, human element aspects, etc. This would smooth and speed up the development of a comprehensive set of international regulation.
The project will contribute to the development of a goal-based regulatory framework on the use of hydrogen and hydrogen-based alternative fuels for waterborne transport. It will identify and ensure the correct management of risks in all design and operational aspects. It will establish the relevant objectives and the functional requirements for the use of hydrogen, consistent with the provisions of SOLAS chapter II-282 for the fuel system components, installation and energy converters.
The scope of the project should therefore include: