MHO-CO-led consortium to develop fuel cells, battery technology for ships

Danish shipping company MHO-Co is heading a consortium that will spend €4.5 million during the next three years on developing fuel cells and battery technology for ships.

Illustration; Image credit: Ballard

The project is being developed in cooperation with the research engineers from Aalborg University and with grants from the Energy Technology Development and Demonstration Program (EUDP).

Specifically, out of a total of € 4.5 million budget, € 2.15 million are grants from the EUDP.

The consortium includes companies Sterling PlanB Energy Solutions, Danfoss, Ballard Power Systems Europe A/S, and Stuart Friezer Marine.

“The aim is to develop environmentally-friendly technology to replace fossil fuels and dominate the maritime industry in the future. With the EUDP grants as well as with knowledge and innovation from other participants, we will set new standards for what is possible in the maritime industry,” said chief executive of MHO-Co, Mik Henriksen. 

Ballard Power Systems Europe A/S will head the development of the first fuel cells for shipping as part of the project.

“Based on our experience with fuel cells for heavy transport, we are now focusing on how fuel cells and hydrogen can also become the green solution of the future in the maritime sector. This project is groundbreaking because together we can test the different options and find a sustainable solution, which can be approved by the authorities and live up to the current requirements for new technologies,” Kristina Fløche Juelsgaard, director at Ballard Power Systems Europe, commented.

Another pillar of the project is the use of energy storage systems for maritime use. This is where Sterling PlanB contributes to the project. 

According to Brent Perry, CEO of Sterling PlanB, the company’s battery technology is engineered to be the most robust lithium battery possible, for a cost-effective, sustainable solution.

The next generation of MHO-Co’s vessels are custom designed to service the wind turbine and offshore industries, and the shipping company specializes in transporting technicians to and from large wind farms.

Currently, the company is building the world’s first Crew Transfer Vessels with hybrid propulsion, and these two vessels will be the focal point of the project. 

“Our two new vessels are built as floating test platforms. They are designed to be adapted to the environmentally-friendly energy systems of the future – simply by replacing engine and propulsion packages. And since the vessels are catamarans, we have four platforms providing even better conditions for testing and comparing different sustainable solutions,” Henriksen explained. 

The two new vessels are being built in China and are scheduled to be put into operation in Europe before summer 2021.