Powering ships with hydrogen, electrolysed at floating solar islands, could become a reality says Dutch firm SolarDuck.
SolarDuck and Voyex announced this R&D-partnership to enable emission-free shipping. It's claimed to be safe, easy, economic and technically feasible. Also there won't be a need for fuel transport because refuelling takes place right at the source: the floating solar island itself. “The innovative power lies in combining technologies”, according to Koen Burgers, CEO of SolarDuck. “If upscaled, a solar island at sea and on rivers can offer the shipping sector a sustainable alternative.”
The test setup at Dekker in IJzendoorn will be the first of its kind in the Netherlands. SolarDuck will supply the solar island: 4 linked platforms containing 39 solar panels each. These modular platforms are suited for the rough conditions found at sea, but will first be tested on the Waal to look at the effects of strong currents and heavy winds. “At the beginning of April, the entirety of the solar island will be towed upstream from Gorinchem to Dekker's riverport in IJzendoorn. A unique event in itself!”, Burgers assures.
The island, which will produce 65 kilowatts of peak power, is connected to a 10 kilowatt electrolyzer that produces hydrogen. The hydrogen is bonded to a 'Liquid Organic Hydrogen Carrier' (LOHC), an oil-like liquid which serves as a binding agent, or carrier, for the produced hydrogen. “This 'hydrogen-oil 'can be transported at room temperature, under the same atmospheric conditions as fuels such as diesel”, Wiard Leenders, CEO of Voyex explains. Furthermore, part of the test setup is the manner in which the hydrogen is released from the oil and subsequently used to generate power on board. ''The carrier itself can be reused'', Leenders adds. This means that the entire energy grid up to and including the sailing on safe hydrogen is within reach.
The project is aptly named “The Atoll”, referring to the movie “Waterworld”, in which an artificial man made island supplies in its own energy needs. Both companies have the long-term ambition, although within their own respective angle of approach, to produce hydrogen using floating solar islands at sea to supply both the shipping sector and other heavy-duty applications.
The total size of the project is approximately €1.000.000. The Province of Gelderland awarded it with a subsidy of €350.000.
By Jake Frith