When today the MF Hydra is put into operation running on zero-emission hydrogen, this is groundbreaking in several ways. In addition to the major technology development, a great deal of work has also been done to develop rules and regulations to enable Norwegian passenger ships to run on hydrogen.
"The Norwegian Public Roads Administration (NPRA) is proud to contribute to making public procurement an instrument in developing and implementing new technology, and thus provide better facilities for road users," says Anders Sæternes of NPRA Ferry Management.
"We have a tradition of using our role as a major purchaser to accelerate development towards the goals set for the transport sector. It is important for us to use our purchasing power for transition. Zero-emission vessels play an important part in this," he adds.
While Norway persists as a leading global actor concerning the green shift within maritime transport – the Norwegian Public Roads Administration leads the nautical way towards a greener future – with our combined efforts in technological advancement and green policy development.
20 years of green ferry innovation predates our current efforts. In the year 2000, the MF Glutra became the first car ferry to run off liquified natural gas (LNG). The use of LNG leads to reduced greenhouse gas emissions, as compared to traditional diesel operation. Eleven years ago, the NPRA issued a tender which resulted in the MF Ampere, the world's first electrical ferry with propeller drive.
"Therefore, by putting the world's first hydrogen ferry into operation, we now take yet another substantial leap towards the goal of zero emissions – in regards to ferries as well as the general maritime industry – both in Norway and internationally," Sæternes sums up.
A Historic Day
"Today will be a historic day, both for Norled and for Norway as a leading shipping nation. Today we are witnessing the world's first ship sailing on liquid hydrogen," says Heidi Wolden, CEO of Norled.
Since the turn of the year, Norled has been carrying out system tests at the quay in Hjelmeland. In recent weeks, they have been running sea trials and received the final approvals from the Norwegian Maritime Authority (NMA).
"This is fantastic! There are only two parties in the world that use liquid hydrogen as a fuel. These are Norled with the MF Hydra, and then the space industry using it as fuel for launches. This says something about the giant technology leap now taken for the maritime industry. After a lot of development and testing, we are now looking forward to welcoming passengers on board for a zero-emission journey between Hjelmeland and Nesvik," says Erlend Hovland, Chief Technology Officer of Norled.
Paving the Way
Norled focuses on innovation and sustainable solutions. In 2015, the company launched the world's first battery-operated, propeller-driven ferry, the MF Ampere. This led to an electric ferry revolution in Norway. Today, the country has around 70 electric ferries in operation.
"It's important for us to be at the forefront when it comes to technology development. Investing in innovation, sustainability, and collaboration to develop new solutions is our way of taking social responsibility," says Wolden.
When the work on the MF Hydra started, both technology and regulations from classification societies and the Norwegian Maritime Authority were inadequate. These are now in place.
Liquid hydrogen may be playing an important role in the green maritime transition. The pilot project in Hjelmeland is therefore very important for global shipping.
The Maritime CleanTech business cluster works closely with the maritime industry and encourages the use of new zero-emission technology.
"MF Hydra confirms Norway's world-leading position in the development of new green maritime solutions. By putting the world's first hydrogen ferry into operation on a Norwegian ferry connection, we are once again showing how purchasing power and good public-private partnerships can be used to develop new and groundbreaking technology. This is important if we are to achieve Norwegian and international targets for substantial emission cuts towards 2030 and 2050. When Norled once again dares to go first, it will be much easier for others to follow in the wake of the MF Hydra," says Ada Jakobsen, CEO of Maritime CleanTech.
Norled has been the leader of the project to develop the technology needed for the MF Hydra.
"It has been an incredibly exciting, educational, and challenging project. We must commend our competent cooperation partners on this journey, and not least the NPRA. They made liquid hydrogen a requirement in their tender specification, forcing the development of new technology. Together we have made history," says Hovland.
Linde Engineering in Germany has supplied the hydrogen systems on board. Danish Ballard has developed the fuel cells that produce electricity from hydrogen. Westcon in Ølensvåg has been responsible for equipping and completing the vessel together with system integrator SEAM from Karmøy. Seam has also supplied the automation scope for the hydrogen system.
Corvus Energy has supplied the batteries for the MF Hydra and the vessel has been approved by the Det Norske Veritas (DNV).
Director General of Shipping and Navigation: «Important for Norway as a nation»
Director General of Shipping and Navigation Knut Arild Hareide says that it is very important for Norway as a maritime nation that we have companies who are investing in new green technology, the way Norled is doing with this hydrogen project.
"We know that there may be challenges when it comes to putting new technology to use, and it is also good that the Norwegian Maritime Authority has been closely involved in the project from an early stage, like we were when the first battery-operated car ferry was to be put into operation. This is of course a very important project for Norled, but also for Norway as a nation. The fact that we work together, businesses and authorities, to facilitate new technology development will give Norway a competitive advantage and may provide the basis for new jobs, while also making it even more exciting to work in the maritime industry," says Hareide.
Video link: Interview with CEO and CTO of Norled
Video link: Footage of MF Hydra sailing with liquid hydrogen