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Hydrogen from Renewables to Power Orkney Ferry

Photo Credit: David Hibbert, Orkney Islands Council

You could say that the Orkney islands are in a lucky location. The mainland coast and the islands themselves have a large surplus of renewable power, which European research teams plan to leverage for production of hydrogen fuel. Innovate UK has just  granted £430,332 of funding to design and integrate a hydrogen diesel dual fuel injection system onboard a commercial ferry.

The hydrogen to be used in the project will be produced by the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney, from the abundance of clean renewable energy sources available on the islands and will power a ferry operating between the main town of Kirkwall and the island of Shapinsay.

The 12-month HyDIME (Hydrogen Diesel Injection in a Marine Environment) project, formally started on 1st August 2018, will provide a stepping stone to de-risk and kick-start future hydrogen marine projects and contribute to reducing emissions within the maritime industry.

Led by Ferguson Marine Engineering Limited, the project will be executed by a consortium consisting of Orkney Islands Council, High Speed Sustainable Manufacturing Institute (HSSMI), the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC), and Lloyds Register. The project will apply, with Ultra Low Emission Mileage Company (ULEMCo), a globally unique technology in hydrogen dual fuel.

With the need to reduce harmful emissions, using hydrogen as a fuel is becoming increasingly popular as an alternative to fossil fuels. Hydrogen/diesel injection technology is already being demonstrated within the automotive industry and can significantly reduce harmful emissions.

Hydrogen is known to have the fastest burn velocity of any fuel, and vastly improves fuel economy while cleaning up exhaust, and only a small fraction of the original fuel load is required for this improvement to have a dramatic effect.

The aim of HyDIME is to prove the use of hydrogen/diesel injection technology in the marine industry. Ferguson Marine, in conjunction ULEMCo will develop the design of how this technology can work in tandem with existing systems to power auxiliary units onboard vessels.

Following this, the system will be physically integrated and will result in the UK’s first hydrogen injection system on this type of vessel.

Orkney is the ideal location for the HyDIME project. As one of the renewable energy leaders in the UK, Orkney offers the infrastructure to produce completely green hydrogen. On the Island of Eday, there is often a surplus of renewable electricity which, instead of being wasted, is fed into an electrolyser sited at EMEC’s tidal test facility. The electrolyser splits water into hydrogen and oxygen, the former of which can then be stored and transported.

As part of the project, HSSMI will conduct a scale-up analysis and carry out a techno-economic assessment of the current system and of potential future scenarios. The aim is to determine if there are any other regions of the UK where similar hydrogen infrastructure could be implemented, leading to similar and larger projects to contribute towards growing the hydrogen economy in the UK.

“Orkney has an abundance of renewable electricity which the local grid cannot cope with,” said John Clipsham, hydrogen manager at EMEC. “This led EMEC to look into alternative ways to store and use electricity so that Orkney’s wind, tidal and wave power potential could be fully realised. Having invested in an electrolyser to generate hydrogen from Eday’s tidal and wind resources, EMEC has been exploring various opportunities to support the development of a hydrogen economy on the islands. The potential for developing hydrogen powered vessels is one of the most exciting prospects, particularly given the number of carbon-intensive inter-island ferries located here. We’re really excited to be part of this project to create a ferry run on a carbon neutral fuel.”

About Tom Breunig (124 Articles)
Tom Breunig is principal at Cleantech Concepts, a market research firm tracking R&D projects in the cleantech sector. He is a technology industry veteran and former international marketing and communications executive who has worked with organizations in semiconductor design, water monitoring, energy efficiency and environmental sensing. He has spoken at numerous technology and energy conferences.
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