Scotland is testing the world’s first hydrogen-powered Orkney Islands ferry.


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To help Scotland progress in the renewable energy race, the world’s first hydrogen powered ferry is to be tested.

The Orkney-based European Marine Energy Centre is working on regulatory approval with project partners before evaluating the Shapinsay ferry. This could result in renewable-powered ferries operating on daily routes across the islands and coastal communities of the world.

Prior to being tested at sea, the ferry was first tested at the dock using hydrogen fuel for auxiliary control.

By using hydrogen to power the auxiliary systems when on the move, HyDIME builds on this development.

The HyDIME project consists of a Ferguson Marine-led consortium of partners. ULEMCo, Lloyd’s Registry, HSSMI and Orkney Islands Council are among the partners.

It is anticipated to be the first ferry of its kind, anywhere in the world, to be operated by hydrogen in this way.

A dual hydrogen/diesel conversion system is being tested aboard the MV Shapinsay as part of the HyDIME project. The first vessel in its class is supposed to be (RoPax ferry).

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The Shapinsay MV. By David Hibbert, Council of The Orkney Islands

Neil Kermode, managing director of EMEC, said that since 2003, when the center was formed by a merger of public sector organizations, a range of innovative devices have been deployed. There are 32 ocean energy devices in total, spanning 11 nations.

“In 2018, we had a particularly successful machine, which is now leading to the next generation of machines. It’s from Orbital Marine Power,” he said.

“They actually generated seven percent of Orkney’s electricity with it during the year. That’s about one day every two weeks that we’ve been running on tidal power. So we’re starting to actually make a difference here.”

The 32 cumulative installations for ocean energy are distributed across 11 countries.

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Mr. Kermode said ferries could operate on hydrogen power “within six months” from island to island if the right headwinds came along.

“We have it set up now so that we can power the ferries when they are docked, and we have done that through the Surf ‘n’ Turf project,” he said. We will expand on this success with the HyDIME project and have now updated the Shapinsay ferry.

Neil Kermode says that Scotland has enormous hydrogen potential

Shapinsay is about 30 minutes away from Kirkwall, Orkney’s main town, by ferry.

The ferry has been adapted to include gas cylinders. There is a nearly complete engine upgrade.

We have the refueling mechanism in place, and right now we’re just working on some of the regulatory problems that have just emerged.

“But we expect to be able to run the auxiliary engine on hydrogen in the near future,” he said.

There is a permit that we are actually working on with the Coastguard.

Scotland is leading the way in green fuel with the launch of the first public hydrogen refueling station in the Central Belt.

In order to power the ferry, the next step is to use hydrogen power in the engine.

He said, “Scotland obviously has such an opportunity with so many ferries and so many communities that have a lot of renewable energy, and we know we can’t keep burning fossil fuels. So it’s all coming together, and you think it’s probably something that will do wonders for Scotland.

The SR2000 is going to be installed at the tidal test site of EMEC. From Orbital Marine Control (formerly Scotrenewables).

The news comes at a time when hydrogen is emerging as a major energy source, and after Aberdeen City Council last week took delivery of the world’s first hydrogen-powered double-decker bus, which First Group will operate using the BOC’s Kittybrewster fuel depot.

Hydrogen-powered trains are also under development, which would add weight to the argument that this energy should be the fuel of the future.

However, commerce and government should move to take advantage of the potential benefits, Kermode said.

I sincerely believe there is a possibility for Scotland to do so,


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