Photo: The Shapinsay vessel (Photo: David Hibbert, Orkney Islands Council)

Green hydrogen as fuel for vessels project gets UK funding

The Shapinsay vessel (Photo: David Hibbert, Orkney Islands Council)

Innovate UK has granted £430,000 for a project aiming to integrate a dual fuel system to power a commercial ferry in Orkney using hydrogen produced from renewable energy sources at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) to contribute to emissions reduction within the maritime industry.

The 12-month project, called Hydrogen Diesel Injection in a Marine Environment (HyDIME), is expected to provide a stepping stone to de-risk and kick-start future hydrogen marine projects, the partners said.

Led by Ferguson Marine Engineering, the project will design and integrate hydrogen diesel dual fuel injection system onboard a commercial ferry by combining the expertise of a consortium involving High Speed Sustainable Manufacturing Institute (HSSMI), EMEC, Lloyds Register, and Orkney Islands Council.

In conjunction with Ultra Low Emission Mileage Company (ULEMCo), Ferguson Marine will develop the design of the technology to work in tandem with the existing systems to power auxiliary units onboard vessels, and will first be used to power a ferry operating between the main town of Kirkwall and the island of Shapinsay as part of the project.

Then, the system will be physically integrated and will result in the UK’s first hydrogen injection system on this type of vessel, according to the EMEC.

As one of the renewable energy leaders in the UK, Orkney offers the infrastructure to produce completely green hydrogen.

On the Island of Eday, there is often a surplus of renewable electricity which, instead of being wasted, is fed into an electrolyser sited at EMEC’s tidal test facility. The electrolyser splits water into hydrogen and oxygen, the former of which can then be stored and transported.

As part of the project, HSSMI will conduct a scale-up analysis and carry out a techno-economic assessment of the current system and of potential future scenarios.

The aim is to determine if there are any other regions of the UK where similar hydrogen infrastructure could be implemented, leading to similar and larger projects to contribute towards growing the hydrogen economy in the UK.

“Orkney has an abundance of renewable electricity which the local grid cannot cope with. This led EMEC to look into alternative ways to store and use electricity so that Orkney’s wind, tidal and wave power potential could be fully realised.

“Having invested in an electrolyser to generate hydrogen from Eday’s tidal and wind resources, EMEC has been exploring various opportunities to support the development of a hydrogen economy on the islands.

“The potential for developing hydrogen powered vessels is one of the most exciting prospects, particularly given the number of carbon-intensive inter-island ferries located here. We’re really excited to be part of this project to create a ferry run on a carbon neutral fuel,” said Jon Clipsham, Hydrogen Manager at EMEC.