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Orkney pilots marine decarbonisation options


By Calum MacLeod

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The MV Shapinsay is being used to test decarbonisation solutions. Picture: Davod Hibbert, Orkney Islands Council.
The MV Shapinsay is being used to test decarbonisation solutions. Picture: Davod Hibbert, Orkney Islands Council.

Orkney is to be the setting for an ambitious seven-month project demonstrating technologies to enable maritime decarbonisation.

The £2.2 million HIMET (Hydrogen in an Integrated Maritime Energy Transition) project will explore solutions for decarbonising ferries as well as shore-side activities in ports.

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

Led by EMEC Hydrogen in Orkney, HIMET will progress an ambitious programme of activities centred on the decarbonisation of two key local maritime sectors: ferry services and cruise terminal operations.

To decarbonise ferries, various solutions will be designed and demonstrated 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 will also be tested running on pure hydrogen.

To develop resilient shore-side power for the maritime sector a hydrogen engine will be deployed at Hatston to power crew welfare facilities at the cruise terminal, and microgrid solutions will be explored to consider future power requirements for ferry terminals.

In parallel, HIMET will carry out research and stakeholder engagement activities to establish how decarbonised fuels (hydrogen and ammonia) coupled with technology innovations can best inform the broader maritime energy transition and help overcome regulatory barriers.

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.

Once project demonstration activities are complete, HIMET partners will help facilitate uptake across the UK and further afield, demonstrating the maritime working practices of the future.

Grant Schapps MP, UK Secretary of State for Transport 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.”

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

“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. 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.”

Simon Edmonds, deputy executive chairman 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.”


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