Orkney Islands Council has welcomed the news that a contract has been awarded for the concept design of a hydrogen fuelled ferry, which could eventually operate on the Kirkwall to Shapinsay ferry route.
The contract has been awarded through the HySeas III project by Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd (CMAL) to Aqualisbraemar LOC Group.
CMAL and Aqualisbraemar LOC Group will now work together on the design, which will be for a double ended passenger and car ferry, with capacity for 120 passengers and 16 cars or two trucks.
The contract award is the latest stage in the EU-funded HySeas III research programme led by a consortium including Orkney Islands Council, CMAL, St Andrew's University and several European organisations.
The aim of the programme is to demonstrate that hydrogen fuel cells can be successfully integrated with a marine hybrid electric drive system - electric propulsion, control gear, batteries etc - along with the associated hydrogen storage and bunkering arrangements.
Key to the project will be the development, construction, testing and validation of a full-sized drive train on land which, if successful, could pave the way for a seagoing vessel to subsequently use the technology.
Hydrogen fuel cells are already used in road transport - including a hydrogen vans used by Orkney Islands Council and examples of hydrogen buses in use across the UK and Europe.
With wind power already being used to produce hydrogen in Shapinsay through the Surf N Turf and BigHIT projects, the ferry will be designed to be used on this route, although it would be capable of operating from any other port where hydrogen could become available in the future.
Working with a wide variety of partners from the rest of Scotland, UK and Europe, Orkney is playing a pivotal role in the development of green hydrogen technologies through a variety of projects including HySeas III, HyDIME, Surf N Turf and BigHIT, which will help in meeting carbon reduction targets and supporting the further development of renewable energy technologies.
Through ‘Orkney Ferries’, Orkney Islands Council is responsible for the provision of internal ferry services to Orkney’s inner and outer isles, comprising of nine dedicated Inter-Island ferries operating between Orkney's mainland and thirteen inner and outer isles.
Councillor Graham Sinclair is Chair of the Council's Development and Infrastructure Committee. He said: "As the maritime industry looks to reduce its carbon footprint and makes moves toward emissions free marine transport, the findings and outcomes of research programmes like HySeas III will play a vital role - and to see the programme take such a step forward is heartening.
"I am proud of the leading role that our communities are playing in these programmes, which let's not forget - in the year of COP26 - are attracting worldwide attention through the global fight for climate change. Orkney's reputation as a leading light in the development of green technologies is down to the tremendous entrepreneurial and go-ahead attitude that exists here whether that be through the private, public or voluntary sector - and Orkney will no doubt continue to play a pivotal role in the months and years to come."
For more information on hydrogen projects in Orkney, including the Orkney Hydrogen Strategy, visit our Hydrogen pages.