Will hydrogen power shipping’s shift to renewables?

Source: press release, 1 April 2019

DC-Hub – the intelligent solution to an uncertain fuel future
DC-Hub – the intelligent solution to an uncertain fuel future (photo: Yaskawa Environmental Energy/The Switch)

Unlocking greater efficiency and environmental performance will be centre stage at Nor-Shipping 2019. Yaskawa Environmental Energy/The Switch believes hydrogen could fuel the way forward.

“Renewables and alternative fuels are attracting increasing interest, driven by greater environmental awareness, tighter regulations and an industry-wide need to optimise energy use and manage costs,” comments Asbjørn Halsebakke, Product Manager of Marine Drives, Yaskawa Environmental Energy/The Switch Norway.

“We’re fielding more and more enquiries about how our drive train and energy-efficient technology can be utilised to embrace new fuels. And, in those conversations, hydrogen is a recurring theme.”

Halsebakke believes that, as a carbon-neutral fuel, hydrogen could be the key to unlocking truly sustainable shipping. He notes that when produced using electricity from renewables, such as wind, solar or hydro power, it is effectively emissions-free. In its liquid form, it can be used to charge batteries for electrical propulsion via fuel cells, for example.

“There are challenges,” he says, “such as bunkering and establishing infrastructure. But I believe demand will provide a powerful incentive for industry to tackle these. We expect developments to move quickly, particularly in China.”

However, Halsebakke’s company, which has delivered more than 1,000 marine power drives to the industry over the past decade, says flexibility is vital.

Yaskawa Environmental Energy/The Switch is tailoring its technology to ensure that shipping can make the transition to clean energy in an easy, efficient and future-proof manner.

“Fossil fuels will remain part of the mix for the foreseeable future, but their role will diminish,” he notes. “Batteries will flourish, particularly for short sea, while hybrid solutions will gain ground, delivering benefits across the board. But there’s no ‘one size fits all solution’, so it’s vital to remain open to new approaches, fuel mixes and technology.”

This is exactly what the company will be focusing on at Nor-Shipping 2019, Your Arena for Ocean Solutions.

Nor-Shipping, taking place from 4–7 June, has a reputation for showcasing future focused solutions. With around 1,000 exhibitors and over 30,000 visiting decision makers from across the globe, it’s a natural hub for those looking to tap into maritime’s next ‘big ideas.’

Yaskawa Environmental Energy/The Switch believes it has one of them.

“Our revolutionary DC-Hub effectively future-proofs vessels for whatever fuel options they decide to utilise,” Halsebakke explains. “It allows for any power source – be that hydrogen, wind generators, or solar panels – to be easily connected to a vessel’s DC grid. In that way, owners can create the best fuel mix to satisfy operational, economic and environmental needs, adding new sources as they become viable.”

“It is also simple, eliminating the need for a main AC switchboard, and cost effective, enabling generators to run at optimal efficiency while batteries cater to load changes. Batteries connected to our DC-Hub can also be used to replace a generator, thus reducing investments, maintenance and fuel cost. What’s more, it is uniquely redundant, with our Electronic Bus Link (EBL) breaker isolating any fault in just microseconds.”

“In other words – in an uncertain world, with an uncertain ‘fuel future’, the DC-Hub provides certainty.”

Yaskawa Environmental Energy/The Switch will be showcasing the DC-Hub, and its full range of innovative technology, at Nor-Shipping.

“This is where the industry meets,” Halsebakke concludes. “So, it’s a vital destination for our team, giving us the chance to discuss our own solutions, but also to take the pulse of the very latest developments and connect with vital partners and new business contacts. Hydrogen will definitely be on the agenda, but it won’t be the only thing fuelling discussion at what is always a lively, interesting and unique global industry gathering.”

Nor-ShippingNor-Shipping 2019 takes place in Oslo and Lillestrøm, Norway, from 4-7 June 2019.