About 90 per cent of world trade is transported by ship. Ship transport is still the most environmentally efficient way of transporting goods, but in order to achieve the goal of becoming climate neutral by 2050, new, energy-efficient solutions must be introduced.

One such solution is the fuel cell project from Odfjell SE, Prototech, Wärtsilä and Lundin Energy Norway. The goal is to develop a technology that can provide emission-free operations over long distances. Hydrogen and battery solutions are currently not suitable for operating ships that sail long distances.

There are around 50,000 such ships worldwide – a significant proportion of international shipping. It is impossible to achieve the goal of climate neutrality without finding solutions for this segment.

We do not have time to wait, we have to think zero emissions right now.

Erik Hjortland, VP Technology at Odfjell SE

– Ships operate for 20-30 years, and we need flexible solutions that can meet future requirements for emissions. We do not have time to wait, we have to think zero emissions right now, says Erik Hjortland, VP Technology at Odfjell SE.

– The fuel cell project is one of the leads we are following. We are focusing on machinery rather than on one type of fuel. Fuel cell technology gives us flexibility that ensures environmentally efficient operations regardless of changes that may occur in fuels in the years ahead.

The technology allows for many different types of fuel, including ammonia and LNG, to be used on a single vessel. In the long run, scaling up such solutions will be of great importance for the ability to achieve climate goals, in addition to the fact that these solutions have commercial value and will be able to create jobs in Norway.

The project has so far been funded with support from Gassnova, the Research Council of Norway, and by the partners themselves. Now a 1.2 MW prototype is under construction and will be tested at the Sustainable Energy Catapult Centre in Stord. It will then be mounted and tested on one of Odfjell’s newest chemical tankers.