A fishing and training vessel delivered to Måløy Upper Secondary School, Norway is to be upgraded with a complete hydrogen fuel cell system, to grant its occupants extended, albeit emissions-free, time on the water.

Launched by Denmark’s Hvide Sande Shipyard in May this year, and delivered to its owner, Vestland County Municipality, in August, the 35m x 9.5m Skulebas will be used by the Måløy school to provide training for youngsters considering commercial fishing as a career path. Capable of accommodating up to 16 students and four crew members, and customised specifically for the Norwegian fishing sector, the US$9 million newbuild replaces an older vessel of the same name that had been utilised by Vestland County since 1980.

The new Skulebas utilises controlled-pitch propulsion and has a speed of 13knots. From the outset, the newcomer had been planned with green propulsion in mind, incorporating a Corvus Energy Orca battery pack rated 1,017kWh and equivalent to approximately 4,000 individual passively isolated cells for the whole installation. So far, so good: but with the basic electric details sorted, Vestland County decided that adding a comprehensive fuel cell system to the mix would work wonders in extending the range of the vessel and the lifespan of the batteries,

Vestland had applied for funding for a fuel cell installation for Skulebas earlier in the year. When this was approved, following the vessel’s launch, the council placed its order, turning again to Corvus Energy to deliver the goods. Geir Bjørkeli, Corvus Energy CEO, comments: “Vestland County was the first to invest in all-electric ferries back in 2014. Since then, it has become a pioneer, with 19 out of 25 ferry routes being all-electric. We believe that today´s milestone will be the start of the same journey for hydrogen fuel cells as it was for batteries.”

Skulebas will be fitted with Corvus Energy’s 340kW Pelican proton-exchange membrane (PEM) system, which will work alongside the previously installed battery pack. The Pelican PEM system was developed by Corvus Energy during the three-year H2NOR project, hosted with co-partners Toyota, Equinor, Norled, Wilhelmsen, LMG Marin, NCE Maritime CleanTech and the University of South-Eastern Norway, which was initiated to develop and produce a modular, scalable and cost-effective PEM system for the marine sector, with performance ranging from 320kW to 10MW.

Corvus Energy tells Ship & Boat International: “The fuel cell system will be placed in a custom deck house next to the hydrogen storage on the front deck, in an area that allows the vessel to keep all of its required fisher-training functionalities.” The boat will source its hydrogen from an onshore supplier, and will be able to store up to 125kg of H2 in a tank provided by Hexagon Purus. “With this amount of H2, the vessel will be able to operate with zero emissions every day for almost all of the students’ different fishing training activities,” Corvus Energy says.

Stemming from the H2NOR project, the company explains: “The fuel cells are well proven and a scalable technology, as they are running in more than 30,000 Toyota Mirai cars, and are among the most produced fuel cell technology in the world. At Corvus Energy, we have data from more than 900 projects with vessels running on batteries. Batteries and fuel cells are ‘best friends’ that work together in perfect harmony to optimise the use of each component, and minimise the additional cost for the owner to operate with zero emissions. Fuel cells generally need a steady load, and batteries can only take peak loads.”

In 2022, the company’s PEM system received Approval in Principle from class society DNV for its ‘inherently gas-safe’ properties, in line with IGF Code requirements. This means that the PEM system is gas-safe in itself, and does not need to rely on other systems to guarantee its safe operation. “The surrounding machinery space will be considered gas-safe under all conditions,” Corvus Energy says. “This design significantly reduces the number of requirements for the safety and ventilation support systems, thereby enabling a more efficient integration aboard the ship” – meaning the system can be situated nearly anywhere on board.

The PEM system package will be delivered to Skulebas in Q2 2024, and the upgraded vessel will commence operations in the following quarter.

Extracted from RINA website, read more here

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