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Ferguson Marine and partners to develop renewables-powered hydrogen ferry: EU-funded HySeas III project

Port Glasgow-based Ferguson Marine Engineering Limited has successfully led a European consortium in a bid for EU funding support for the building and launch of the first sea-going car and passenger ferry fueled by Hydrogen.

The supported development is expected to cost around €12.6 million (US$14.6 million) of which €9.3 million (US$10.8 million) has been awarded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation fund. The vessel’s fuel will be produced from renewable electricity marking a paradigm shift towards entirely emissions-free marine transport.

HySeas III, jointly led by the shipyard Ferguson Marine and the University of St Andrews, includes Orkney Islands Council; Kongsberg Maritime (Norway); Ballard Power Systems Europe (Denmark); McPhy (France); DLR - German Aerospace Center; and Interferry (Belgium/US) the global trade association for ferry operators and suppliers.

The initial objective is to construct and prove the vessel’s modular drive train onshore, testing for stress and durability under conditions employing real-world data from existing vessels. Hydrogen produced from renewable electricity will be used to fuel Ballard FCveloCity-HD 100-kilowatt fuel cell power modules, which will provide zero-emission primary propulsion power for the ferry. Ballard plans to supply 7 of its modules to power the ferry, with the first modules expected to be shipped in 2018.

Ballard application engineering services will also focus on system integration activities.

A successful test will allow a vessel to be constructed, in the already assured knowledge that such a vessel can operate safely and efficiently around Scotland’s challenging coast. The vessel is planned to operate in and around Orkney, which is already producing hydrogen in volume from constrained—and hence otherwise wasted—renewable energy.

In 2012, Ferguson launched the MV Hallaig, the first battery hybrid ferry. The redeveloped yard achieved another first in November 2017 when it launched the MV Glen Sannox, the first UK ferry build with dual-fuel capability (marine diesel & LNG). The Glen Sannox’ sister vessel is currently under construction at the shipyard.

The University of St Andrews, the third-oldest university in the English-speaking world, is home to world-class research and development in hydrogen, battery and other energy technologies. A key part of the development aspect is the transferal of knowledge and expertise into real-world applications.

Dr. Smith from The University, along with Jim Anderson at CMAL (Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited) initiated the HySeas program in 2012. Support from Scottish Enterprise allowed the idea to be taken from an early feasibility study to the point where the focus can now shift into test and delivery.

Dr. Smith previously played a leading role in the introduction of hydrogen buses into Scotland, a development which is now set to move beyond Aberdeen with Dundee currently following and other Scottish cities considering fleets of their own.

The HySeas III project formally begins on 1 July.



Shipping is massively polluting, including no doubt to the ocean food chain, so three cheers for progress for this!

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