With the award of a commercial contract to develop a design concept for Europe’s first sea-going vehicle and passenger ferry powered by hydrogen fuel cells that store energy from renewable sources, the journey to build Europe’s first sea-going vehicle and passenger ferry has taken a step forward.
Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd (CMAL), one of the partners in the EU-funded HySeas III program, has awarded the contract to Aqualisbraemar LOC Group. Along with several European organizations, the consortium includes the University of St Andrews and the Orkney Islands Council.
HySeas III is the research program’s third development stage, and it will build on the previous two by demonstrating that hydrogen fuel cells can be successfully integrated with a marine hybrid electric drive system (electric propulsion, control gear, batteries, and so on), as well as hydrogen storage and bunkering arrangements. This type of fuel cell is currently used in road transportation, and hundreds of hydrogen-fueled buses can be found across Europe.
On land, the HySeas III project will develop, build, test, and validate data in a full-sized drive train, which is the collection of components that make up a vehicle.
It will pave the way for the first seagoing vessel to use this fuel technology if it is successful.
The concept design will be developed in collaboration between CMAL and Aqualisbraemar LOC Group, and will be based on the requirements of a double-ended sea-going passenger and car ferry with a capacity of 120 passengers and 16 cars or two trucks. It will be designed to run between Kirkwall and Shapinsay in Orkney, where hydrogen fuel is generated by wind power, but it will also be capable of running at other ports where hydrogen may become available in the future.
John Salton, Fleet Manager and Projects Director at CMAL, said:
“The contract award represents a significant step forward in establishing a new, innovative vessel concept, and marks an important shift towards entirely emissions-free marine transport. Hydrogen ferries exist, but this concept is built around using hydrogen fuel cells to power a seagoing ship, the first in the UK and Europe. If successful, the next step will be to take the knowledge and know-how into building a ferry.”
Graham Dallas, Head of Business Development at LOC in Aberdeen, said:
“We understand the important role the maritime industry has to play in the global fight for climate change. Whilst tackling marine emissions is a global responsibility, we are also proud to be supporting CMAL as part of a Scottish-led consortia, in building up world-leading competence in alternative clean fuel systems, which harnesses local marine renewable sources.”