Norway is funding a hydrogen (H2)-powered high-speed ferry and short-sea freighter through its PILOT-E scheme.

A grant has been awarded to HYON, a joint venture established in 2017 by Nel, Hexagon Composites and PowerCell Sweden.

The ambitions of both projects are to realise zero-emission propulsion via fuel cells using cost-efficient H2 produced from electrolysis based on renewable energy.

The ferry, known as Project Zero Emission Fast Ferry (ZEFF), will have a cruise speed of between 25 and 45 knots. The power to propulsion will be produced by fuel cells fuelled by H2 and batteries.

The vessel will have approximately 45% less energy consumption than current vessels per passenger-km, and can be made with varying size and capacity, from 100 to 300 passengers.

Project SeaShuttle – a zero emission coastal freighter with automated cargo handling – has a goal to develop and realise profitable emission-free container transport for the short-sea market based on H2 and fuel cells.

The ship concept will be moving transport of cargo from road to sea and will include autonomous cargo handling in achieving cost-effectiveness.

“We’re very proud to announce our participation in these projects. The projects will develop unique solutions for two very interesting maritime markets for H2; the high-speed craft market and the short-sea freighter market,” enthused Tomas Tronstad, Managing Director of Hyon.

“The award shows that Hyon with owners possess technology and competence that are attractive for the maritime market, and that the shipping industry is gaining momentum in driving green solutions, triggered by the PILOT-E scheme.”

The PILOT-E scheme provides funding for Norwegian trade and industry and has been launched as a collaboration between the Research Council, Innovation Norway and Enova.

Final agreements for the grant will be signed in early 2019, upon which the project will commence immediately thereafter.

In the development contracts, HYON will use PowerCell as the supplier of fuel cells, Hexagon as the supplier of H2 storage tanks and Nel as the supplier of the on-shore H2 production and fuelling solutions.