Can ferries operate on hydrogen energy sources in harsh marine environments?
The UK´s Orkney Islands are embarking on a scientific journey to develop hydrogen ferries for maritime transport inside the archipelago.
David Hibbert of the Orkney Islands Council Marine Services coordinates the initiative. He spoke to Euronews about its advantages and challenges.
"Hydrogen is really the only clean fuel we are looking at for maritime long distance use. We have two hydrogen projects running at the moment. One involves the vessels right behind us here. It is a project called HyDIME. This is about mixing hydrogen fuel with existing diesel fuel. And taking a fair and immediate reduction in carbon footprint and other emissions.
The second project that will follow behind that is one called HySEAS 3. It is a full fuel-cell vessel, a 100% hydrogen, completely clean, which will follow the first one; we are actually using this vessel as a the fore-runner into that second project.
The main challenges on hydrogen is reliability. Because of the fact that there is not enough people trained in operation of hydrogen systems and supply chain, we need to get a system that makes ferry operation reliable. Ferry operations are time tabled; every 15 to 20 minutes we have a departure. Any problem with that means people´s delays, and that becomes unacceptable. So the biggest challenge for us is to take the hydrogen fuelled systems and make them reliable, safe and also acceptable for the public".