UK Government backs world’s first zero-emission multi-fuel station for hydrogen and electric ships

A consortium led by zero-emission solutions provider Unitrove (which created the world’s first liquid hydrogen bunkering facility) has won government funding to explore the development of an innovative zero-emission multi-fuel station (ZEMFS) to power hydrogen and electric ships.

The novel design concept, planned to be operational by March 2025, will use liquid hydrogen as the basis for providing three fuelling options for powering small craft: liquid hydrogen, compressed gaseous hydrogen, and electric charging.

The other winning members of the consortium include ACUA Ocean, manufacturers of hydrogen-powered maritime autonomous surface ships; Zero Emissions Maritime Technology (ZEMTech), a marine-focused project management and delivery company; and the University of Strathclyde, a leading maritime research institution. The project is further supported by MJR Power & Automation, Orkney College UHI and the Port of Tyne.

The project is part of the Clean Maritime Demonstration Competition Round 2 (CMDC2) launched in May 2022, funded by the Department for Transport (DfT), and delivered in partnership with Innovate UK.

Last March, the DfT announced the biggest government investment ever in the UK commercial maritime sector, allocating £206 million to UK SHORE, a new division in the department, which will work on a number of schemes over the next three years to accelerate the design, manufacture and operation of UK-made clean maritime technologies and unlock industry-led transition to Net Zero.

Steven Lua, CEO of Unitrove, explained: “Everyone connected with the project understands its importance, and it is down to the incredible work and collaboration of all project partners in pulling together such a compelling case that we have been awarded this money.

“The maritime industry is responsible for a significant proportion of pollutants associated with climate change and reduced air quality, and a zero-emission multi-fuel station that can power boats running either hydrogen or electricity is expected to play a significant part in reducing these emissions.”

Professor Peilin Zhou, Professor of Marine Engineering at the University of Strathclyde, added: “As a CMDC project, ZEMFS provides a unique opportunity for industry and academics to work together to tackle the challenge of decarbonisation in shipping by providing a novel hydrogen bunkering and electric charging solution. We are extremely pleased to have such an opportunity to collaborate with partners who are real pioneers in maritime decarbonisation.”

Ian Finch, Commercial Director at Port of Tyne, said: “We are delighted to support this innovative ZEMFS project. Shipping accounts for 3% of the world’s emissions and the International Maritime Organisation has agreed to cut ships’ carbon intensity by 40% by 2030.

“This project is a key demonstrator towards this ambition and complements other low carbon projects that Port of Tyne is developing across its estate, including green hydrogen production, green shore-to-ship power solutions and becoming a carbon-neutral port by 2030.

“Furthermore, international energy company Equinor has chosen Port of Tyne as the operations and maintenance base for its Dogger Bank offshore wind farm project – the world’s largest – and the ZEMFS project will be extremely valuable to operators like Equinor who are looking to minimise emissions from their Service Operation Vessel fleet.”

Transport Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan concluded: “The UK has always been a proud seafaring nation and helping the maritime sector to be more environmentally-friendly will mean it continues to play a key role in the UK’s economy for generations to come.”

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