Hydrogen is pointed to as an important part of the solution for tomorrow’s energy challenges, especially for ships. Green hydrogen produced from renewable electricity can help reduce emissions from ships, both from coastal and deep sea ships. The most well-known forms of storage for hydrogen for fuel are compressed and liquid hydrogen. In this pilot, we explore the use and production of a third form of storage for hydrogen to be used as fuel on ships: liquid organic hydrogen carrier (LOHC).
LOHC for ships – hydrogen oil – consists of an organic oil that is enriched with hydrogen (LOHC+). This is done in a facility onshore. This hydrogen oil behaves similarly to diesel with respect to storage, transport and handling, and has about the same level of risk when it comes to fire and toxicity as regular diesel. LOHC+ can also be bunkered in the same way as diesel for ships.
Onboard the ship the hydrogen is released from the enriched hydrogen oil (LOHC+), the hydrogen is then used in a fuel cell or internal combustion engine, whilst the depleted hydrogen oil (LOHC-) is stored in another tank on board. At the next bunkering of LOHC+, the LOHC- is loaded off the ship. This depleted hydrogen oil (LOHC-) will then again be enriched with hydrogen in the production facility to be used again.
Hydrogen oil – LOHC – has two great advantages compared to compressed and liquid hydrogen:
- The hydrogen is stored in oil, LOHC, and there is substantially less free hydrogen on board the ship, which reduces the risk.
- The hydrogen oil can be transported in conventional tanks, about the same way as for diesel today, and therefore has substantially lower transport costs than compressed and liquid hydrogen.
All the different alternative energy carriers for ships have advantages and disadvantages. It is necessary to explore how each of them can best be used in an energy system: from renewable energy, transported to ships, through the ship’s energy system, and all the way to the ship’s propeller. LOHC has the potential to become an important energy carrier for the ships of the future.
Goals of the pilot
The pilot will present a concept and business case for the production of hydrogen that will be able to deliver hydrogen oil (LOHC) to ships in Norwegian waters. The concept will be able to form a basis for an engineering project. This will further be able to be used for applications for financing and government grants for the realization of a facility for hydrogen oil (LOHC).
The final implementation of the pilot is an industry solution for hydrogen production, distribution, and bunkering, that is tested and scaled in Norway and that can be sold abroad. The overarching goals are therefore both to reduce CO2 emissions and to develop the Norwegian industry.
The pilot project was started in January 2021.
The main findings from the pilot are related to three different production facilities that can supply 3, 18 and 180 medium-sized ships. LOHC has been shown to have lower transportation costs and better safety properties than many other hydrogen carriers. This is because LOHC is similar in form to diesel and behaves in a similar way.
The risk of using LOHC on board ships is also far lower, for example in terms of the risk of explosion, than it would be when using compressed and liquid hydrogen.
But it comes at a cost. About NOK 2,000 per ton, according to calculations in the pilot. This is primarily because the amount of energy – and again, renewable, green electricity – needed to produce LOHC is high.
A production facility to operate three medium-sized ships (the lowest number of ships in the scenarios considered in the pilot) would require an annual energy requirement of 177 GWh and an investment of approximately NOK 700 million. The benefit is an emission reduction of 25,000 tons of CO2 per year. The figures are from a specific, hypothetical plant, in Florø.
If LOHC is to be facilitated along the entire coast, a total of 10 berthing locations for a total of 180 ships (the highest number of ships in the scenarios considered in the pilot), the power requirement is 10.6 TWh of renewable energy. This corresponds to approximately 8% of current electricity production in Norway. And the price: NOK 18 billion.
Østensjø rederi, which has been a partner in the pilot, has contracted nine ships that are adapted for LOHC-based propulsion.
- The final report (in Norwegian) is available here: