Norway to push hydrogen fuel supply chain to maturity

NORWAY has been using its vast cash reserves to invest in shipping and transport decarbonisation in recent years, and the latest call for proposals for funding sees it seek to bring its hydrogen for transport supply chain to maturity.

Three state-run agencies have been given significant amounts of state-funds, notably from the country’s renown oil funds, to help build the country’s hydrogen infrastructure.

This latest annual push from PILOT-E – the name of the joint funding effort – is the fourth. Previous funds have gone to Kongsberg/Massterly/Yara for the Yara Birkeland, to the ASKO vessel which will autonomously shuttle grocery products across the Oslo Fjord, and Sea Shuttle, a project with Samskip, Hyon and NTNU, to take half the lorries that currently come from Europe and through Sweden and Norway off the road and onto a zero emission short sea vessel.

While some of the previous projects that have won funds may have focused on fuel cells and hydrogen fuel, this next funding round aims to take the Norwegian test bed to the next level.

This new call aims to push the maturity of the hydrogen supply chain to commercial maturity. There are a number of projects in Norway looking at hydrogen supply chains, and even joint venture businesses such as Hyon which brought together the experience of a fuel cell maker (Sweden’s Powercell) with Norwegian infrastructure and production technology companies Nel and Hexagon.

Increasing the supply chain for road and sea. There are already five buses in Oslo, Norway powered by hydrogen fuel cells. (Photo courtesy of Ruter).

This latest call for projects to support will see a focus on bringing together players in the overall hydrogen supply chain, from production to end-use and which have a focus on establishing a profitable business model rather then remain state funded projects. This latter part is seen as critical to create a solid carbonised industry.

“This may involve developing new energy and cost-effective technology, but also new business models, logistics solutions and cross-sectoral collaboration” wrote Enova, one the three state-run entities behind Pilot-E.

There are a number of projects already involving hydrogen as a marine fuel in Norway, with most being focused on delivering hydrogen as a compressed gas, but much of that gas being generated at refineries, which as critics point out does nothing to remove the carbon dioxide emissions from the industry. it is estimated that about 90% of the industrial hydrogen currently produced is made by steam reforming , where the methane in the natural gas reacts with the water in the steam to form carbon monoxide and hydrogen.

Norway’s coastal ferry company, Norled, is currently involved in a pair of projects that will lead to hydrogen vessels on the Norwegian ferry network. One is destined to operate in the area north East of Stranger known as Hjelmland in 2021 while the other will be a high speed ferry for 2022.

Norled is part of a group of companies in a project to create a high speed hydrogen fuel cell ferry.

The Norled contract for the hydrogen ferry came after a tender from the Norwegian Public Roads Administration which specified, under Norwegian law, that public ferries should use clean fuels.

Project funding comes from both Norway, and the European Union, through the FLAGSHIP project, with the criteria including the development of a renewable energy based hydrogen supply chain.

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