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UK Ferry Operator DFDS to develop hydrogen ferry

(26 November 2020) UK ferry operator DFDS will partner with British marine engineering firm Lloyd’s Register and several other organisations to develop the world’s first ferry powered by electricity from a hydrogen fuel cell.

The partnership will develop a 100 per cent hydrogen-powered ferry. The ship’s fuel cell will emit only water, with green hydrogen produced by a projected offshore wind energy-powered electrolyser plant.

DFDS and Lloyd’s Register will partner with ABB, Ballard Power Systems Europe, Hexagon Purus, KNUD E. HANSEN, Ørsted and Danish Ship Finance to deliver the project. The group of companies have applied for EU support, via the EU Innovation Fund, to develop the technology, which will initially be deployed on the ferry company’s Oslo – Frederikshavn – Copenhagen route. The company operates UK ferry services from Dover, Newhaven and Newcastle.

The hydrogen fuel cell system will produce up to 23 MW of electricity to power the ferry. The hydrogen will be produced locally in Greater Copenhagen based on offshore wind, and the project will investigate how to optimally integrate with the local energy system.

Torben Carlsen, chief executive of DFDS, said: “The largest fuel cell systems today produce only 1-5 MW, and the development of such large-scale fuel cell installations for an electric ferry is a monumental task. We can only succeed in partnership with companies that together can muster some of the globe’s finest expertise in design, approval, building, financing and operation of innovative vessels.

“Together, we expect to learn how to make these fuel types and technologies commercially viable, which is key to a transition of the industry to climate neutrality, which is also the ultimate goal of DFDS’ climate plan.”

Charles Haskell, decarbonisation progamme manager at Lloyds Register, said:“In order for the industry to reach the International Maritime Organisation’s (IMO) 2050 ambitions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from shops, it will need to transition to zero carbon fuels. This is a complicated pathway not just in terms of technology, but also infrastructure.

“The partners in the DFDS project are industry leaders within their respective fields, from zero carbon energy companies, through fuel storage and fuel cell providers. This collaboration, supported by experts from the Maritime Decarbonisation Hub, will help solve a number of unanswered questions. Lloyd’s Register will help ensure a thorough and impartial de-risking of this hydrogen fuelled Ro-Pax ship design, including safety assessment of the complete supply chain.” 

If the project develops as projected, the ferry could be in full operation as early as 2027. It has the working name Europa Seaways and is designed for 1,800 passengers, with capacity for 120 lorries or 380 cars. 

Vessel and route details
On board power production PEM Fuel cells
Engine power 23MW
Fuel Compressed hydrogen
Fuel tank capacity 44T
Passenger capacity 1,800
Trailer & Car capacity 2,300 lanemeters
Route Copenhagen – Frederikshavn – Oslo
Roundtrip time 48 hours
Bunkering interval 48 hours
CO2e/year emission avoidance 64,000 Tons