Thursday, November 26, 2020

Consortium of Industry Leaders Opts for Hydrogen Power for New RoPax International Ferry

Money Sought from EU to Develop Zero Emission Vessel
Shipping News Feature

NORWAY – DENMARK – A consortium of well-known industry names have applied for EU support for development of a RoPax ferry serving an international route, to be powered by electricity from a hydrogen fuel cell which only emits water. Green hydrogen is to be produced by a projected offshore wind energy-powered electrolyser plant in Greater Copenhagen.

The project sees ferry group DFDS partner up with Lloyd’s Register (LR), ABB, Ballard Power Systems Europe, Hexagon Purus, Knud E Hansen, Ørsted and Danish Ship Finance. The power plant will be able to produce up to 23 MW and Torben Carlsen, CEO of DFDS, commented:

“The largest fuel cell systems today produce only 1-5 MW, and the development of such large-scale fuel cell installations for an electric ferry is a monumental task. We can only succeed in partnerships with companies that together can muster some of the globe’s finest expertise in design, approval, building, financing and operation of innovative vessels.

“Together, we expect to learn how to make these fuel types and technologies commercially viable, which is key to a transition of the industry to climate neutrality, which is also the ultimate goal of DFDS’ climate plan.”

The partnership has applied for support from the EU Innovation Fund. As there are no ferries of this kind in the world today, the development of the ferry will also require public involvement. However, if the project develops as projected, the ferry could be in full operation on the route as early as 2027. Charles Haskell, Decarbonisation Manager at Lloyd’s Register said:

“Lloyd’s Register (LR) is looking for every opportunity to accelerate decarbonisation in the maritime industry which is why the DFDS project is a great match for us. In order for the industry to reach the IMO 2050 ambitions it shall need to transition to zero carbon fuels, this is a complicated pathway not just in terms of technology, but also infrastructure.

”The partners in the DFDS project are industry leaders within their respective fields, from zero carbon energy company through fuel storage and fuel cell providers. This collaboration supported by experts from the Maritime Decarbonisation Hub (MDH) will help solve a number of unanswered questions. LR will help ensure a thorough and impartial de-risking of this hydrogen fuelled RoPax ship design, including safety assessment of the complete supply chain.”

The hydrogen is to be produced locally in Greater Copenhagen based on offshore wind, and the project will investigate how to optimally integrate with the local energy system. Ørsted’s involvement will be on the generation side using its expertise in offshore wind technology and Anders Nordstrøm, Vice President and head of Ørsted’s hydrogen activities observed:

“Renewable hydrogen and other sustainable fuels will be key in decarbonising the maritime sector and heavy transport as a whole to meet Danish and international climate targets. If regulators are willing to put the right framework in place to enable the demand and supply side of sustainable fuels, Danish companies are willing to invest in large-scale Power-to-X-projects. This project is another proof of the strong potential of renewable hydrogen production, powered by continued build-out of offshore wind.”

Storage of liquid hydrogen is the speciality of German headquartered Hexagon Purus, and Michael Kleschinski, the company’s EVP for Light Duty, Distribution & Cylinders said the project would stretch all the parties involved to look beyond any known comparable solution in a large scale hydrogen value chain exploration that will ‘move our visions’.

The ferry, that has the working name Europa Seaways, is designed for 1,800 passengers and has capacity for 120 lorries or 380 cars and the actual design of the ship rests with Dannish outfit Knud E Hansen, a company that regularly pops up that role for shipping interests around the globe. Managing Director Finn Wollesen Petersen said of the new venture;

“Due to the ongoing global fight to reduce greenhouse gas emissions it is more important than ever for designers to collaborate with ship owners, regulators and equipment makers to innovate and rethink how we design ships. This project is a great example of how much we can push traditional thinking. By combining new ideas and close collaboration we can show how the future in ship design could potentially look.”

The new craft is destined to serve on the international Copenhagen – Frederikshavn – Oslo route, a round trip of some 48 hours. It is estimated the vessel will save 64,000 tonnes of harmful emissions annually using its PEM fuel cells to propel it. Jesper Themsen, President & Chief Executive Officer, Ballard Power Systems Europe A/S said:

“Fuel cells in combination with hydrogen will play a key role in helping the marine industry address GHG emissions. With the ‘Hydrogen EU-ROPAX’ project and the strong partnership behind it, we will not only meet the demand for zero-emission marine solutions we will also contribute to creating green jobs and growth in Denmark and ensure a Danish leadership role within the marine segment.”

That left the last word with Jostein Bogen, Global Product Manager at ABB Marine & Ports, the group which has regularly supplied other ferry owners with power distribution systems and drive technology as they switch from conventional engine power. He said:

“With the increasing demand for solutions that enable sustainable, responsible shipping, we are confident that fuel cells will play an important role in helping the marine industry meet CO2 reduction targets. Collaborating on this project with partners across the value chain is an important step on the marine industry’s journey towards enabling zero-emission operation for RoPax vessels.”

Photo: Artist’s impression of the new vessel.