ABB and Ballard Power Systems have received approval in principle (AIP) from the international classification society DNV for their marine fuel cell concept. The fuel cell system should be able to generate 3 megawatts of electrical energy in the ships.
Ballard and ABB already signed a memorandum of understanding in 2018 to jointly develop fuel cell systems for maritime electric mobility. Even then, the production of 3 MW was a development goal. The fuel cell module must not be larger than a conventional fossil fuel ship engine.
Obtaining the AIP is an important step in the development of new technologies. This independent concept evaluation confirms that the design is feasible and that there are no significant impediments to realizing the concept. ABB says that once the AiP is in place, the jointly developed solution can be finalized for use on board a wide range of vessels over the next few years.
In ferries – with their potential for regular new hydrogen refueling – the hydrogen fuel cell module will either serve as the sole power source for electric propulsion or take over as a sort of hybrid solution in environmentally friendly areas. sensitive areas or emission control areas such as those introduced on the Norwegian Heritage Fjords. On large ocean-going vessels, the module must be able to cover auxiliary needs. The solution concept also includes integration with an energy storage system.
With the Norwegian stipulations in mind, in 2018 the International Maritime Organization called for the decarbonization of the shipping industry. It should be noted here that the combustion engines of ships use bunker fuel, which is among the dirtiest types of fuel on the planet. Since larger ships on longer routes present a considerable challenge for decarbonization, this hard-to-reduce sector has received considerable attention for hydrogen and hydrogen fuel cell projects.
In response to IMO stipulations, Norwegian Havyard Group has started working with partners on a fuel cell system for large ships with Linde Engineering as the tank supplier and PowerCell Sweden as the fuel cell supplier. In this case, the The plan is to connect several 200 kW modules in parallel, giving a total power of 3.2 megawatts – therefore a similar size to the project between ABB and Ballard. Almost exactly a year ago, Canadian-Norwegian battery specialist Corvus Energy began developing and producing marine fuel cell systems on a large scale in cooperation with Toyota.
ABB and Ballard have already accumulated considerable experience in the field of fuel cell systems for marine applications. Earlier this month, Ballard already delivered two – albeit much smaller – fuel cell modules for Norwegian ferries. The two 200 kW FCwave modules have been delivered to Norled, one of Norway’s largest ferry and express boat operators. And already in 2018, ABB and the research organization SINTEF from Norway started investigating whether fuel cells are a feasible source of energy for the main propulsion of ships.
The successful development of this larger system concept between Ballard and ABB builds on a three-year collaboration between the two companies. Ballard points out that zero-emission hydrogen fuel cells are already powering small ships over short distances and confirms that hydrogen fuel cell technology is close to being ready for installation on larger ships.
“ABB’s industry-leading experience in marine solutions and Ballard’s expertise in developing and deploying megawatt-scale fuel cell systems for land-based use have proven to be the right combination. , enabling us to take the next step in our joint efforts to achieve this. technology available for large vessels,” said Jesper Themsen, President and CEO of Ballard Power Systems Europe A/S. “Securing an AiP offers an indicator to the maritime industry regarding the potential of this truly transformative concept.”