MV Catriona, the most recent hybrid electric low emission ferry built for CMAL

Scottish-led HySeas III project aims to build Europe’s first sea-going ferry powered by hydrogen fuel cells

THE journey to build Europe’s first sea-going vehicle and passenger ferry powered by hydrogen fuel cells which store energy from renewable sources took a step forward with the award of a commercial contract to develop a design concept for the innovative vessel.

The contract has been awarded to Aqualisbraemar LOC Group by Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd (CMAL), one of the partners in the EU-funded HySeas III programme.  The consortium also includes the University of St Andrew’s and Orkney Islands Council, alongside several European organisations.

HySeas III is the third development stage of the research programme and will build on the first two stages by demonstrating that hydrogen fuel cells can be successfully integrated with a marine hybrid electric drive system (electric propulsion, control gear, batteries, etc.), along with the associated hydrogen storage and bunkering arrangements.  Fuel cells of this type are currently used in road transport and can be found in hundreds of hydrogen-fuelled buses across Europe.

The HySeas III project will develop, construct, test and validate data in a full-sized drive train, the group of components that make up a motor vehicle, on land.

If successful, it will pave the way for the first seagoing vessel that uses this fuel technology.

CMAL and Aqualisbraemar LOC Group will work together on the concept design, which will be built around the requirements of a double-ended sea-going passenger and car ferry, with capacity for 120 passengers and 16 cars or two trucks.  It will be designed to operate on the route between Kirkwall and Shapinsay in Orkney, where hydrogen fuel is generated through wind power, although it will be capable of operating at other ports where hydrogen could become available in the future.

John Salton, Fleet Manager and Projects Director at CMAL, said:

“The contract award represents a significant step forward in establishing a new, innovative vessel concept, and marks an important shift towards entirely emissions-free marine transport.  Hydrogen ferries exist, but this concept is built around using hydrogen fuel cells to  power a seagoing ship, the first in the UK and Europe.  If successful, the next step will be to take the knowledge and know-how into building a ferry.”

Graham Dallas, Head of Business Development at LOC in Aberdeen, said:

“We understand the important role the maritime industry has to play in the global fight for climate change. Whilst tackling marine emissions is a global responsibility, we are also proud to be supporting CMAL as part of a Scottish-led consortia, in building up world-leading competence in alternative clean fuel systems, which harnesses local marine renewable sources.”