Fuel cell use in the land of the fjords


February 1, 2018

Image titel:


Fuel cell use in the land of the fjords


Passenger express ferry in Floroe, © Broedrene Aa

One of the most important pillars of Norway’s economy, the maritime sector, is closely tied to the petroleum and natural gas industry. Using highly specialized ships and underwater equipment, offshore oil platforms are constructed, equipped and maintained as well as assembled and anchored to the seabed along the coast of Norway. The country has one of the largest merchant fleets in the world, and a large part of its public transport is done over water. Cars and passengers are ferried to neighboring countries, along the coast of Norway’s fjords or between its many islands. The default fuel, however, is still diesel, despite its effects on the climate and the environment.



A pioneer in hydrogen

The “hydrogen highway” that was imagined was reduced to a small handful of stations around the capital. The fuel cell vehicles were also missing from the actual picture, as they were everywhere else they were supposed to be found. In addition, leading Norwegian companies that were originally driving hydrogen forward gradually backed away from the technology with the unclear future. Two such companies, Statoil and Norsk Hydro, started the withdrawal after their merger in 2007. The final step was to hand the electrolyzer business over to Nel Hydrogen in 2011. Since then, Nel has become one of the most experienced companies in supplying hydrogen system components.


Today, Norway is one of the richest nations in electric means of transportation. No other country has more electric cars per capita. More than one out of every three newly registered vehicles have an electric motor. Since new electric car users are probably not looking for alternatives, the introduction of hydrogen and fuel cell technology in land transport at this time seems superfluous.

In 2015, however, after intensive lobbying from the Norwegian Hydrogen Forum and associated groups, the government put hydrogen implementation back into the white papers on energy supply. The issues arising from the changes in climate protection and renewable energy policy, that is, electricity surpluses and network bottlenecks, might be one reason why hydrogen use in Norway is back at the center of political discussion. Norwegian hydrogen and fuel cell companies are ready for it. In order not to miss any important developments, many in recent years have been heavily involved in the EU-funded projects set by the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking and in the activities of other international organizations.

A special kind of challenge

Unlike many other countries in Europe, Norway does not have to look hard for rich sources of renewable energy. The country has long relied on renewables and, today, generates nearly a hundred percent of its electricity from hydropower. It also produces a significant amount of surplus energy, about 10 terawatt-hours per year, which naturally varies depending on the day and season. Although the country in northern Europe considered grid connection and electricity exchange with its neighbors, that is, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Russia, from the start, it is now increasingly testing the limits of the transmission network.

The large quantities of green hydrogen that could be produced in Norway by means of electrolysis have attracted many players in the energy business, since new opportunities to export it might open up. In addition, Norway’s maritime industry has realized that it could significantly reduce its emissions by fueling ships with hydrogen. For now, the fact is that the international shipping sector has agreed on liquid natural gas for maritime propulsion, since it is much more climate-friendly than diesel. However, hydrogen could be used to reduce emissions from ship fleets moving around the region or country all the way to zero. The focus here would be on car and passenger ferries, express ferries operating as water taxis and large excursion boats for giving tours.

An H2 high-speed passenger ferry

In 2015, the first purely battery electric ferry, B/F Ampere, went into use on the Sognefjord between Lavik and Ytre Oppedal. In 2016, Vision of the Fjords, a cruise ship that mainly used electricity for propulsion despite being a hybrid, was presented and sent on its path along the Naeroyfjord. It has become clear to the participants in the project that further solutions would need to be made before electric ships could cover longer distances or before more powerful vessels could run on electricity alone. For this purpose, the use of fuel cells as range extenders in battery electric ferries is now being investigated.

An initial prototype for a fuel cell high-speed passenger ferry was conceived. It is to be built in the coming years and go into operation in 2021. The ship will have a length of 30 meters, or 98 feet, and is designed for up to 100 passengers. A decisive factor for initiating this project was the great potential to reduce diesel fuel use and thus emissions.

In order to meet hydrogen demand for the new ferry, an electrolyzer and a new gas station at corresponding capacities will be built with the support of the local government in Floroe. It can also provide the current required for electrolyzer operation; of the nearly 16 terawatt-hours of electricity produced in the administrative district using water and wind power, there is today more than 8 terawatt-hours in surplus. Since construction of the whole infrastructure is not possible at the current pier for high-speed ferries, an entire facility is being built on an island opposite it. This island will be further expanded to accommodate the new system.

The large-scale project is being funded by the regional government and the participating municipalities. Coordinated by the local administration of Floroe, three companies from the region have joined forces to work on the project: Broedrene Aa, in Hyen, specializing in the manufacture of carbon fiber fast ferries; Mancraft, in Bergen, an expert in boat propulsion systems manufacture; and Skyssbat, the public transport company that will operate the ferry around Floroe starting in 2021.

Floroe is located in the county of Sogn og Fjordane, in the west of the country. Norway’s largest fjord, the Sognefjord, is also in this area. Fifty-five percent of public transport emissions in the county comes from ships. Fast ferries with a travel speed of up to 30 knots, which is approximately 56 kilometers or 35 miles per hour, are an important means of transportation in the region. They not only connect the archipelagos to the mainland; they can also be used to reach the cities and municipalities along the coast and the fjord much faster than with cars and intercity buses. Regarding the project, the regional government is concerned with not only the technical feasibility and working demonstrations, but also the value added to its economy and any new opportunities that could come from it.

Written by Alexandra Huss

Kategorien: Europe

Here are interesting and current articles on the topic of hydrogen – stocks and the stock market!

Economic prospects for companies in the hydrogen sector | Future, stocks & hydrogen companies on the stock exchange and more…

Which hydrogen companies will prevail in the competitive market in the long term? Get tips and cartwheels and learn more about risks or opportunities. Our stock market specialist and expert author Sven Jösting reports critically, independently and competently.

Apr 11 2024

Bloom Energy convincing in the long haul

Bloom Energy is planning a cooperation with Shell to use its SOEC technology for the large-scale...
Apr 11 2024

Ballard – Prospects better than current market valuation

The share price of Ballard Power is at an all-time low. The published figures for the fourth...
Mar 18 2024

Search for the ideal hydrogen storage

Interview with Thomas Korn, CEO of water stuff & sun Startup company water stuff & sun has...
Mar 15 2024

Is exponential growth slowing down?

Fuel Cell Industry Review 2022 Year 2022 saw fuel cell shipments creep up over 2021 numbers,...
Mar 11 2024

On the way to becoming a green hydrogen partner

Oman aims to score points with H2 infrastructure Wind, sun and loads of expertise – these...
Mar 07 2024

We can master a scale-up for green hydrogen

Interview with Dr. Kai Fischer, Director at RWTH Aachen The efficient scaling of green hydrogen...
Mar 07 2024

Frustration over continuing uncertainties

Interview with Jorgo Chatzimarkakis, CEO of Hydrogen Europe There is a lot that needs sorting out...
Mar 05 2024

“If ever there was momentum for hydrogen, it is now”

Interview with Dr. Jochen Köckler, chairman of Deutsche Messe “We’re bringing people together.”...
Feb 28 2024

H2Direkt: Blueprint for heating with pure H2

The energy providers Thüga und Energie Südbayern (ESB) as well as Energienetze Bayern have...
Feb 26 2024

Just switch over?

Hydrogen in the existing natural gas network Whether hydrogen contributes to the clean heating...
Feb 26 2024

Pilot plant for coating bipolar plates

At Fraunhofer FEP (Fraunhofer-Institut für Organische Elektronik, Elektronenstrahl- und...
Feb 20 2024

55 MW electrolyzer to decarbonize Saarland

Hydrogen Regions series: HydroHub Fenne living lab The power plant site in Fenne, Völklingen, a...
Feb 20 2024

Chicken feathers as FC membrane material

Feathers from chickens or other poultry could in the future help make fuel cells more effective...
Feb 15 2024

SMEs demand more security

Guest article by André Steinau, CEO of GP Joule Hydrogen After all, the Ampel Coalition leading...
Feb 15 2024

Accelerated expansion of renewable energies

RED III is here – Elsewhere, the wait continues Progress is being made at EU level – albeit...
Feb 12 2024

Picea 2 relies on lithium instead of lead

HPS presents new product generation The company HPS Home Power Solutions has unveiled a new...
Feb 12 2024

H2 production by photocatalysis

The direct generation of hydrogen from sunlight has long been considered the most elegant solution...
Feb 05 2024

Regional instead of international

Hy-Fcell has it difficult asserting itself The aspiration of Landesmesse Stuttgart with Hy-Fcell...
Feb 01 2024

Hydrogeit Verlag turns 20 years old

Hydrogeit Verlag is proudly celebrating its 20th anniversary as a renowned specialist publisher in...
Jan 26 2024

Stracke other H2Now managing director

BMV Energy GmbH is entering the market as another player in hydrogen refueling stations. The...


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *