H2 calculation tool answers the big questions

Hydrogen Europe’s calculation tool shows both if, and how, transition to hydrogen can be achieved and outlines likely costs Hydrogen Europe’s calculation tool shows both if, and how, transition to hydrogen can be achieved and outlines likely costs

Hydrogen could provide a cleaner, greener maritime fuel – but many will be asking, quite rightly, ‘can it be achieved with the vessels I have... and how?’

Therefore, a calculation tool under development by Hydrogen Europe aims to give owners the basic, underlying information, enabling them to make the right choice for their particular operation and not waste energy chasing the many potential, but ultimately inappropriate, configurations.

As the organisation’s innovation manager Grzegorz Pawelec explained, it’s easy to look up a comparison of different fuel/engine possibilities given some fairly basic input, covering power, full load operating hours, storage capacity and so on.  

It highlights some interesting insights: take for example, a case study based on Fromveur II, a 3.3MW-powered passenger ferry. Assuming (fairly reasonably) an  ICE efficiency of 45% and fuel cell efficiency of 55%, moving to compressed hydrogen from MGO would increase the onboard fuel volume by six, from 39m3 to 230m3, although there is a perk: the weight of the fuel decreases from 33t to 10t.  

However, use liquefied H2 and the necessary volume drops to 3.5 times that of MGO: 140m3.

Importantly, the tool also incorporates operational costs, allowing for the differing regional energy prices to enter the equation. Therefore, assuming renewable electricity at €40/MWh, the hydrogen option is about 40% more expensive than MGO, however, with renewable energy at €25/MWh, H2 fuel costs reach parity.

“Of course, [in the case of Fromveur II], the extra volume is a problem as it could result in a decrease of the number of passengers that the vessel may be able to carry,” added Pawelec. But, he noted that the vessel currently bunkers only once or twice a week, with enough fuel for 60 to 70 hours of sailing: therefore “it should be possible to alleviate the problem resulting from lower energy density just by bunkering more often”, he said, reducing onboard tank size. He concluded for this operation – and many others – “it’s more an issue of logistics than economy”.

Usefully, Hydrogen Europe’s online calculation tool can return figures for all kinds of queries: for example, the overall cheapest option against the top six most effective GHG emission strategies, putting the decision-making firmly where it should be: in the hands of the owner-operators.

By Stevie Knight

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