NORLED - H2 FERRIES FRANCE & NORWAY
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NORWAY & FRANCE - CAD impression of the proposed NORLED zero carbon hydrogen powered ferry.
MARITIME EXECUTIVE 13 MAY 2019
The FLAGSHIPS consortium includes nine European partners including the maritime equipment manufacturer ABB and design company LMG Marin. Fuel cell technology will be provided by Ballard
Europe and vessel energy monitoring and management by PersEE. Management, dissemination activities and maritime hydrogen safety expertise are provided by VTT and industry cluster NCE Maritime CleanTech. Westcon Power & Automation is expected to officially join the consortium soon.
THE SF BREEZE is a design for San Francisco Bay. It is estimated this passenger ferry will consume an estimated 1,000 kilograms (2,204 pounds) of hydrogen per day, and will be supported by a station that can dispense 1,500 kilograms (3,306 pounds) per day. That will make this station about twice the size of the current largest hydrogen fueling station in the world, officials say. It will also be the first of its kind to support both land and marine use. Program backers hope the economy of scale from dispensing such large amounts of hydrogen will lower overall prices on the local market, too.
SOLAR & WIND POWERED FERRY - The Cross Channel Challenger (CCC) was a project on the drawing board in 2019 looking for backing to develop a coastal cruiser that is zero carbon just like the hydrogen projects, but where the vessel converts energy from nature onboard for propulsion without risk of hydrogen leaks or fires.
This is a toe-in-the-water project using budget off the shelf equipment to keep the costs down. Hence, the theoretical performance is lower than might be achieved but higher than the current benchmark. It is a useful stepping stone to medium range ferries and eventually bigger ships with longer ranges. Solar combined with wind power could be the winning combination. Comparing the two technologies will be interesting. For sure, the solar powered ferries will be safer and cheaper.
Solar and wind powered vessels do not need big hydrogen tanks next to docks for ships to fill up from. They do not need trucks to deliver the hydrogen from the conversion plants and last but not least, hydrogen is potentially dangerous, as the Zeppelin 'Hindenburg' demonstrated in 1937 when a spark ignited the fated airship, destroying it in minutes.
Since 2019, a study in July 2021 has shown that the hull design in basic, could be adapted to cross the Atlantic on hydrogen power alone, with solar assistance, as a top up power source. Food for thought for Waterborne and Zero Emission Waterborne Transport (ZEWT) advocates in Europe. The aim would be to adapt the concept to practical ZESTA ferries, especially for island nations who depend on shipping for their economies. The proposed design is also safer, leak wise.
CONVERSION, CONVERSION, CONVERSION - It is the number of additional stages of splitting water using electricity, storing as a gas and then recombining it to extract the electricity that was put in at the beginning at a huge net energy loss. Elon Musk has a point don't you think?
Hydrogen is recognised as a fuel with the potential to deliver 100% zero-carbon operation in marine transport, but the systems proposed so far are expensive and complicated, where the first rule of engineering is to Keep It Simple Stupid: KISS.
The allure of the hydrogen economy is plain, splitting ordinary water using electrolysis to obtain oxygen and hydrogen gas is like a schoolboy chemist dream come true, especially if we can generate what appears to be free electricity using solar cells and wind turbines to split the water. Then the hydrogen is free right?
No, not really.
There is a cost, including the cost of manufacturing the solar panels or wind turbines and the transmission line installation and maintenance. The inefficiencies in the conversion and handling chain make hydrogen expensive to produce and so potentially un-competitive - as compared to using the electricity needed to convert water, directly.
In addition, hydrogen is dangerous unless stored very carefully. Space rockets powered by hydrogen and oxygen sometimes explode, with the Hindenburg zeppelin explosion being signs of things to come in a world fraught with human error. We'd be courting disaster. If something can happen, it will happen. Passengers would be traveling in potential time bombs.
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PUBLISHED - Point and Sandwick Trust, in collaboration with a number of industry partners (Wood, Siemens-Gamesa, Engie, ITM, CMAL, Johnston Carmichael and Ferguson Marine), have published a feasibility study to assess the suitability of using hydrogen produced from local wind farms to power future ferry services operating in the Western Isles and West Coast of Scotland.
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