British manufacturers unveil $100m hydrogen vessels

Hydrogen Sector 14.12.21
Written by: HYCAP

The UK is pioneering the future of offshore operations with the release of designs for the world’s first autonomous hydrogen-powered vessels.

Designed by renowned British marine operator Attollo, the three ships boast zero-emission hydrogen fuel cell propulsion, onboard renewable power generation and next-generation technology, including ergonomic environments that minimise noise and vibration for crew.

The design of the vessels, set to hit the water by 2030, received funding from the government who continue to invest in hydrogen, and assistance from V&A Dundee’s Design Accelerator for low-carbon technologies. Transport consultancy CENEX provided research support for the zero-emission propulsion system.

Batteries are not a viable option for decarbonising ships – a typical British ferry would require a battery weighing 5,000 tonnes

The vessels will be used by teams of engineers and other professionals working in offshore sectors, including wind energy, oil and gas, and environmental management.

“Attollo’s Project Zero is one of the most exciting ideas we’ve worked on in our Design for Business programme, and these plans for zero emissions vessels could be a game-changing development in sustainable offshore travel,” said Jen Ballie, design for business research manager, at V&A Dundee.

Clean hydrogen is the only serious option for decarbonising marine transport and shipping, which emits 940 million tonnes of CO2 annually and is responsible for 2.5 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Batteries are not a viable option – a typical British ferry would require a battery weighing 5,000 tonnes using current technology – while biodiesel has been shown not to be carbon neutral.

Ships are already being built that run on hydrogen. In October this year, MF HYDRA, an 82-metre ferry with capacity for 300 passengers and 80 cars, powered by liquid hydrogen, won the prestigious Ship of the Year award from Nordic maritime magazine Skipsrevyen.

The European Innovation Project Flagships is set to begin operating the world’s first commercial cargo vessel powered by hydrogen by the end of the year. The ship, to be operated and owned by French inland shipowner Compagnie Fluvial de Transport, will ply its trade on the River Seine.

There is no shortage of activity in this area in the UK either. Sea-Kit International recently won the Clean Maritime Demonstration Competition for uncrewed surface vessels funded by the Department for Transport and InnovateUK and will retrofit a 12-metre ship, the Maxlimer, with fuel cells provided by West Sussex-based Bramble Energy.

The UK’s emerging hydrogen hubs, such as Teesside, are centred around ports and will produce green hydrogen from offshore wind, making them the perfect springboard for the development of a maritime hydrogen industry.  With investment in hydrogen happening across multiple sectors the ‘ UK hydrogen economy ‘ is well and truly emerging.

“Zero emission marine propulsion technology is in its infancy, but Attollo want to demonstrate early leadership and adoption for large scale commercial maritime applications,” said Fergus Worthy, General Manager at CENEX.

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