Hydrogen Supply Hub Selected for First Hydrogen-Powered Cargo Ship

hydrogen supply Norway for world;s first zero-emission cargo ship
Design concept for the world's first hydrogen-powered cargo ship (HeidelbergCement and Felleskjøpet)

Published Jun 24, 2021 4:18 PM by The Maritime Executive

Details were announced for the supply of green hydrogen in Norway for what will potentially be the world’s first hydrogen-powered cargo ship. The partnership developing the vessel selected Norway’s state power company, Statkraft, working with power transmission company Skagerak Energi as suppliers for the green hydrogen. This is seen as the first step in the Norwegian government’s recently announced plans to establish hydrogen hubs to support the adoption of the alternative fuel for maritime and ground transportation.

Designs for the zero-emission vessel, which will combine wind and hydrogen power, were unveiled in March 2021 as part of a competition organized by the Green Shipping Program, a public-private partnership for the development of environmentally advanced shipping projects. Designs for the self-loading bulker call for a length of 289 feet with a deadweight of approximately 5,500 tons. The vessel, which could enter service by early 2024, will be operated under a 15-year agreement with two of Norway’s leading industrial companies, Felleskjøpet and HeidelbergCement. Egil Ulvan Rederi will be the shipping company operating the bulker transporting grain from Eastern Norway to Western Norway and rock/gravel on its eastbound trips powered by a combination of green hydrogen and rotor sails.

After previewing the design concepts, the organizers said the project was entering a more detailed development phase where technical solutions will be further developed and optimized. Among the projects, they announced through the Green Shipping Program a tender to supply green hydrogen for the project. 

"In the process of creating the world’s first zero-emissions bulk ship, we’re happy to have signed with two solid partners in Statkraft and Skagerak Energi as energy suppliers," said Svenn Ivar Fure, CEO, Felleskjøpet Agri, and Knut Omreng, Director of Logistics, HeidelbergCement Northern Europe in a joint statement. “Their concept of hydrogen production in both the west and eastern part of Norway gives us operational advantages when the ship is seaborn, and the usage of hydrogen gives us knowledge that can be transferred to other ships and segments in the future. The Greenbulk project is without doubt ground-breaking for the energy sector, and we look forward to collaborating with them.”

More than ten suppliers entered proposals, with the contract for delivery of green hydrogen being awarded to Statkraft and Skagerak Energi. The winning concept involves container swapping with compressed hydrogen. According to the companies, the solution is flexible and can be used both for transport and other purposes.

"Statkraft is Europe's largest producer of renewable power, and the production of renewable hydrogen and hydrogen-based fuels is in line with our strategic ambitions,” says Birgitte Ringstad Vartdal, Executive Vice President at Statkraft.  “This contract is an important milestone in our efforts to establish Statkraft as a leading hydrogen producer in Norway and Sweden and fits well with the series of other initiatives we have on hydrogen for sea and land transport." 

The Norwegian Government recently presented its roadmap for hydrogen. The plan calls for establishing five hydrogen hubs within maritime transport that also accommodate supplying land transport. According to the partners in this project, establishing hydrogen production for this freight route in the Oslofjord area can form the basis for the first hub and serve as a model to expand hydrogen distribution.

Statkraft and Skagerak Energi will continue to work together with the Green Shipping Program and DNV, HeidelbergCement, Felleskjøpet, and the shipping company Ulvan with Norwegian Ship Design to detail the concept and choose the location of the facility. The plan is to be ready for an investment decision by the summer of 2022 to start deliveries in late 2023.