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Will hydrogen fuel power the shift to a greater use of renewables?

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Renewables and alternative fuels are attracting increasing interest, driven by greater environmental awareness within society, 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 innovative drive train and energy efficient technology can be utilised to embrace new fuels. And, in those conversations, hydrogen is a recurring theme.” 

Halsebakke’s colleague Ville Parpala, director, product marketing of Marine Solutions, agrees. He says that hydrogen, in combination with battery and hybrid systems, will help shipping chart a route to a more environmentally sound and cost-efficient future.

“Hydrogen is a carbon neutral fuel,” he states. “When it is produced using electricity from renewable sources, such as 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. I think its uptake in maritime will take a lot of people by surprise, with developments moving ahead quickly in both Europe and Asia – particularly China.

“There are obvious challenges, in terms of production, bunkering and other infrastructure, but demand will work as a powerful driver to help industry overcome these issues.”

Both executives are, however, quick to stress that any move towards hydrogen won’t be at the expense of battery and hybrid solution developments, but rather in tandem with them. Fossil fuels will remain part of the mix for the foreseeable future, they say, but their ‘slice of the pie’ will shrink over time. Batteries, on the other hand, will grab more. “All electric solutions for short sea shipping and hybrid solutions for offshore and deep sea help owners and operators meet environmental and cost targets, and as such will become increasingly commonplace,” Halsebakke notes. 

“There are barriers to hydrogen uptake that you don’t see with marine batteries, which have taken huge leaps forward in recent years, but hydrogen is a much more viable option for long-haul shipping. In that regard, it can be a key enabler in decarbonizing the industry – a stated IMO target by the year 2100.”

Despite both executives’ belief that hydrogen’s role in shipping will evolve, neither is prepared to view it as a ‘one size fits all’ solution. “It’d be foolish to see it as the only way forward,” Parpala notes. “The world is unpredictable, and shipping companies can’t afford to put all their eggs in one basket. Owners and operators need to be flexible to prosper, and that’s especially true when it comes to fuels.”

Read the article online at: https://www.drybulkmagazine.com/shipping/08032019/will-hydrogen-fuel-power-the-shift-to-a-greater-use-of-renewables/

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