Norway is funding 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 development contracts assign PowerCell as supplier of fuel cells, Hexagon as supplier of hydrogen storage tanks and Nel as supplier of the on-shore hydrogen production and fuelling solutions.
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.
Fuel cell drives have received more interest recently. ABB and the research organisation SINTEF of Norway are currently investigating whether fuel cells are a feasible energy source for main ship propulsion for example. Meanwhile, construction of a fuel cell ferry destined for testing in the San Francisco Bay has begun in the States reportedly.