Orkney's European Marine Energy Centre to test green solutions for ferries and cruise ships

A cutting-edge project that will test drive green hydrogen technologies designed to slash the environmental footprint of the maritime industry is set to get under way in Orkney.

The £2.2 million Hydrogen in an Integrated Maritime Energy Transition (HIMET) initiative will centre around decarbonisation of two key parts of the sector – ferry services and cruise terminal operations – in a bid to help Scotland and the UK achieve net-zero climate targets.

It is one of 55 projects selected for funding under the UK Department for Transport’s flagship Clean Maritime Demonstration Competition, delivered in partnership with Innovate UK.

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Based at the pioneering European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney, the seven-month trials will explore solutions for cutting the climate impacts of ferries as well as shore-side activities in ports.

The £2.2 million Hydrogen in an Integrated Maritime Energy Transition (HIMET) project, being carried out at the European Marine Energy Centre in Orkney, will centre around decarbonisation of ferry services and cruise terminal operations

Once demonstration activities are complete, HIMET partners will work on facilitating uptake across the UK and further afield.

James Walker, hydrogen development manager at EMEC, said: “EMEC foresees significant opportunities in maritime innovation, with hydrogen and hydrogen derivative fuels expected to play a vital role in decarbonising the sector.

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“Building on the knowledge and experience from various green hydrogen projects that have instigated the development of a hydrogen economy locally, the HIMET project will showcase emerging and innovative technologies, which will help pave the way to decarbonising maritime activities.

The European Marine Energy Centre is the only accredited, grid-connected, wave and tidal test centre for marine renewable energy in the world, carrying out real-life trials of the latest power generation technology and green hydrogen innovations

“While the project will focus on addressing challenges in the Orkney context, we believe our findings will be applicable to all island and coastal environments where vessels provide vital lifeline services.

“Orkney has long been a living laboratory for renewable energy and decarbonisation and is well placed to become a centre of excellence in maritime decarbonisation as well.”

EMEC is the world’s first and biggest test and demonstration facility for wave and tidal energy generators.

Its purpose-built, open-sea testing facilities for prototype technologies attract developers from around the globe.

The centre is also spearheading various projects using green hydrogen to replace fossil fuels, having built its own onshore production plant.

A variety of solutions will be designed and demonstrated to decarbonise ferries, including hydrogen storage specifically intended for use on board a vessel and the supply of on-board auxiliary power using a hydrogen fuel cell.

A conventional ferry propulsion engine that runs on pure hydrogen will also be tested.

At the same time, a hydrogen engine will be deployed to power crew welfare facilities at the commercial pier at Hatston, and microgrid solutions will be explored to consider future power requirements for ferry ports.

Simon Edmonds, deputy executive chair and chief business officer for Innovate UK, said: “As the UK prepares to host COP26 in the maritime city of Glasgow, it is great that we can announce funding for these fantastic projects in the maritime sector that will help the UK meet its net zero goals.

“From this competition we saw a very high level of demand, we have seen the very best of British ideas from all over the country.

“It is clear that not only does the UK have a great maritime history, but also a bright and greener future too.”

HIMET draws upon leading energy system and maritime expertise locally in Orkney and is strengthened by the involvement of leading technology developers and sector experts drawn from across the UK.

The consortium includes Aquatera, EMEC Hydrogen, Eneus Energy, OakTec, Orcades Marine Management Consultants, Orkney Islands Council, Ricardo, RINA, Schneider Electric, ULEMCo, and Urban Foresight.

UK transport secretary Grant Shapps said: “As a proud island nation built on our maritime prowess, it is only right that we lead by example when it comes to decarbonising the sector and building back greener.

“The projects announced today showcase the best of British innovation, revolutionising existing technology and infrastructure to slash emissions, create jobs and get us another step closer to our decarbonisation targets.”

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