PowerCell to provide fuel cell systems for hydrogen-electric hybrid retrofit project

Hydrogen fuel cell technology company PowerCell has received an order for two 100 kW marine fuel cell systems from offshore service provider O.S. Energy for the Transship II sustainable vessel project.

Image: The Prince Madog research vessel set to feature PowerCell's fuel cells, Credits: O.S. Energy

This £5.5 million ($7.01 million) initiative focuses on retrofitting the research vessel Prince Madog, co-owned by Bangor University, with a hydrogen-electric hybrid propulsion system, showcasing the potential for sustainable propulsion solutions in the maritime industry.

The retrofit work is to be completed in early 2025, with a demonstration planned for March 2025. The vessel’s emissions are expected to be reduced by up to 60%.

The project is supported by the UK Department for Transport as part of the Clean Maritime Demonstration Competition Round 3 (CMDC3) – delivered in partnership with Innovate UK.

PowerCell said that this order represents a significant expansion of the company’s offerings into the segment of smaller commercial and leisure vessels, including both retrofits and newbuilds, and shows that the technology is ready for wider uptake.

“While the large ocean-going ships that will require new fuels make up approximately 85% of the maritime industry’s carbon footprint, the other 15% are ready for decarbonisation now through fuel cells. According to the International Maritime Organization, 15% of smaller shortsea vessels still represent approximately 150 million tonnes of carbon emissions emitted each year,” PowerCell pointed out.

Richard Berkling, CEO of PowerCell, Sweden, stated: “We are proud to be at the forefront of sustainable maritime technology. Our Marine Fuel Cell Systems offer several benefits over traditional diesel generator sets, including zero emissions, silent operation and exceptional reliability. Additionally, our 100kW Marine Fuel Cell System has the same footprint as conventional solutions, ensuring seamless integration into existing vessel designs. These advantages are critical as the industry moves towards greener and more efficient solutions.”

Martin Nuernberg, Managing Director of O.S. Energy, UK, commented: “We are thrilled to partner with PowerCell, a leader in fuel cell technology, to equip the Prince Madog with the latest in marine propulsion systems. This order is a critical step in our commitment to innovation and environmental responsibility, demonstrating the potential of hydrogen technology in transforming the maritime industry.”

In related news, in 2024, PowerCell joined H2Marine, an EU project aimed at developing innovative hydrogen solutions with a focus on developing and testing fuel cells specifically for marine applications. The project entails a comprehensive process of design, development, testing and distribution of PEM fuel cell stacks that generate 250-300 kW of electricity.

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