Kongsberg launches world’s 1st full-scale hydrogen-based propulsion system

Norwegian technology group Kongsberg has tested and verified the world’s first full-scale, full-size, zero-emission drivetrain powered by hydrogen fuel cells designed for ships and ferries.

The project demonstrates that the technology is now mature for using hydrogen (H2) as an energy carrier, according to Kongsberg.

Kongsberg
Image Courtesy: Kongsberg

“With a verified and tested hydrogen-based propulsion system, we take the next step in zero-emission solutions at sea,” Geir Håøy, CEO of Kongsberg, said.

The program is the third and final part of the EU-funded project “HySeas” which has been running since 2013 to prepare and demonstrate a scalable hydrogen system for ships and ferries.

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Kongsberg has been the technical lead of the project, which has involved participants from Scotland, Denmark, France, Germany, Sweden and England.

In this final stage, Kongsberg has built a full-scale electric propulsion system based on hydrogen-powered fuel cells at Ågotnes outside Bergen. The system will now undertake a 4-month testing program for validation purposes with the aim of verifying the final design for an H2-powered RoPax ferry.

As explained, the drivetrain testing is intended to demonstrate the ease with which H2 fuel cells can be integrated with a marine hybrid electric drive system.

The testing mirrors the operational loads which would be experienced by a vessel on a route between Kirkwall and Shapinsay in Orkney. It will confirm safe operation and power and fuel capacity requirements, together with other valuable information to feedback to the vessel design team at Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd (CMAL) in Scotland, Kongsberg added.

CMAL plans to complete the design in March 2022. Hydrogen fuel will be generated through wind power at the ferry port.

“If we are to succeed with hydrogen investment in Norway, both to reduce national emissions and create new, green and sustainable jobs, we are dependent on being able to show complete pilots on a full scale,” Egil Haugsdal, President of Kongsberg Maritime, explained.

“This means that the next step will be to show the technology in operation, and then quickly put in place the surrounding infrastructure. Orkney will be the first practical usage of this technology while the Norwegian maritime cluster has the opportunity develop our own pilots and projects here in Norway.”

The full-scale HySeas III test was launched at the Kongsberg facility in Ågotnes, Norway on 1 December 2021.

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