The Norwegian company Norled is building the world's first liquid hydrogen ferry, pictured.

New report predicts soaring demand for hydrogen in shipping

A new report has estimated that in coming years, western Norway’s shipping industry could be consuming as much as 105,000 tons of liquid hydrogen a year.

The study, launched by NCE Maritime CleanTech and Greensight, looked at what the future could bring for the region’s car ferries, fast ferries and oil platform supply vessels.

As part of the analysis, two ferry routes and 26 fast ferry routes on the west coast of Norway were found to be likely to run on hydrogen.

If all of these vessels convert to using this new fuel source, this would represent a total demand of more than 250 tons of liquid hydrogen per day. This represents over 80 percent of today’s global production capacity.

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Research and analysis for the report have been executed by Greensight and Norled, with support from Equinor and Gasnor. The mapping has been partly financed by Hordaland County Council.

“Hordaland has a large shipping activity and many harbours, and we see maritime transport, shipping and aquaculture as keys to accelerate the demand for hydrogen within transport,” says Mette Nora Sætre, the County Council’s head of regional economic development.

Challenges around greater use of hydrogen

The report also outlines the largest barriers for implementing the use of hydrogen in the region.

One of the challenges will be in encouraging the production of liquid hydrogen in Norway. “Our volume scenarios and cost comparisons clearly show that the current European capacity is both too small and distant to serve a Norwegian maritime market,” says Hege Økland, chief executive of NCE Maritime CleanTech.

Other challenges include bringing down the cost of producing hydrogen, and developing new solutions for distributing large volumes of the fuel to where it is needed.

The cruise ships of the future could also be powered by hydrogen fuel cells. Photo © Agurtxane Concellon / Hurtigruten

Possibilities for the future

Nevertheless, there are signs that the country may be on the way to solving some of these issues.

The Norwegian company Hyon is currently developing a comprehensive system for creating and supplying clean hydrogen to short sea vessels. In future, this method will enable the company to offer hydrogen refuelling to a range of vessels including ferries, fast ferries and cruise ships.

And out at sea, an even more advanced scheme is also underway. The Deep Purple project, led by oil service company Technip FMC, is looking at using offshore wind power to create hydrogen, which will then be stored on the ocean floor.

These reserves could then be used to drive Norway’s oil and gas platforms, or to refuel ships out at sea.


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