Norway announced on December 14 2018  funding for a hydrogen-powered high speed ferry and a short-sea freighter through their PILOT-E programme. They awarded a grant to Hyon, a joint venture between Nel, Hexagon Composites and PowerCell Sweden to realise the project together with partners. HYON established in 2017, provides customers from the maritime sector with one point of contact for all things hydrogen, from production over distribution and storage to dispensing systems and fuel cells. To realise the new fuel cell vessels envisioned by the PILOT-E scheme however, HYON has to team up with ship building partners naturally. In detail, the projects are:
– Project ZEFF stands for Zero Emission Fast Ferry. The vessel will utilise foils that lift the vessel out of the water and will have cruise speed between 25 and 45 knots, that is up to 83 kilometres an hour. Fuel cells and batteries will power the vessel to such high speeds, carrying 100 to 300 passengers.
– Project SeaShuttle describes a zero emission coastal freighter with automated cargo handling. The project goal is to develop and realise emission-free container transport for short-sea market based on hydrogen fuel cells. The ship concept will be moving transport of cargo from road to sea and will include autonomous cargo handling in achieving cost-effectiveness. The PILOT-E scheme provides funding for Norwegian trade and industry and has been launched as a collaboration between the Research Council, Innovation Norway and Enova. Final agreements for the grant will be signed early 2019, upon which the hydrogen ship projects will commence immediately thereafter.

France’s Energy Observer, clocking already 10,326 nautical miles, having set out from Saint-Malo in June 2017, the first hydrogen vessel around the world has made 33 stopovers and has been to 14 countries, navigating in France and the Mediterranean with no emissions of greenhouse gases or fine particles. Returning to Saint-Malo, its home port thsi December, the vessel will undergo important changes to be ready for its next challenge: Northern Europe. These changes were revealed at a press conference on December 10 in the Energy Observer village at Salon Nautic 2018. In 2019, the vessel will test a completely new system combining the advantages of the former system with a new one: a wind propeller. The Oceanwings wings® are going­­ to reduce the vessel’s energy consumption, accelerate its speed, and above all, enable it to produce energy and hydrogen while navigating.

Maersk then announced on December 4, 2018 its goal to reach carbon neutrality by 2050 and therefor the need for commercial carbon neutral vessels by 2030.  To date, Maersk´s relative CO2 emissions have been reduced by 46% (baseline 2007).
“The only possible way to achieve the so-much-needed decarbonisation in our industry is by fully transforming to new carbon neutral fuels and supply chains,” says Søren Toft, Chief Operating Officer at A.P. Moller – Maersk. The yet to come electric truck is expected to be able to carry max 2 TEU and is projected to run 800km per charging. In comparison, a container vessel carrying thousands of TEU sailing from Panama to Rotterdam makes around 8800km. With short battery durability and no charging points along the route, innovative developments are imperative.
Given the 20-25-year life time of a vessel, it is now time to join forces and start developing the new type of vessels that will be crossing the seas in 2050 , he says.

In November Golden Gate Zero Emission Marine (GGZEM) announced the beginning of construction of the ‘Water-Go-Round’, a hydrogen fuel cell boat,  representing a to be launched  launched in mid-2019 the Water-Go-Round will be the first fuel cell vessel in the US and the first commercial fuel cell ferry in the world. The 70-foot catamaran is being built by the US-based Bay Ship & Yacht Co. of Alameda, with construction expected to be complete by September 2019. In June 2018, the California Air Resource Board (CARB) announced that Golden Gate Zero Emission Marine (GGZEM), had been awarded a $3m grant to build the first hydrogen fuel cell ferry in the Bay area. Funding for the CARB grant comes from California Climate Investments, a statewide program that puts billions of Cap-and-Trade dollars to work reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving public health and the environment — particularly in disadvantaged communities.

Last June ABB and Ballard Power Systems,signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on developing the next-generation fuel cell power system for sustainable marine e-mobility. The fuel cell power system, to be jointly designed, developed and validated by ABB and Ballard Power Systems, is anticipated to play a significant part in accelerating the industry-wide adoption of sustainable solutions for marine e-mobility, and help ship-owners meet the increasing demands for clean operations. ABB and Ballard Power Systems will leverage the existing kilowatt-scale fuel cell technologies and optimize them to create a pioneering megawatt-scale solution suitable for powering larger ships. With an electrical generating capacity of 3MW (4000 HP), the new system will fit within a single module no bigger in size than a traditional marine engine running on fossil fuels. “This MoU is a significant next step in our ongoing relationship with ABB, the innovative market leader in marine solutions,” said Rob Campbell, Chief Commercial Officer at Ballard Power Systems. “The rapidly evolving marine market represents an exciting growth opportunity for zero-emission fuel cell technology. And, Ballard’s prior development and deployment of megawatt-scale containerized PEM fuel cell systems for land-based use gives us the critical experience and knowledge to collaborate effectively on the development of clean energy solutions for key marine market applications.”

Photo: courtesy Energy Observer